“Scoop” is another fine example of a Mississippi publishing house presenting a book written by and about an outstanding Mississippian. It’s Jack Nelson’s memoir and was edited after his death by Matusow, his wife of 35 years. She will be at the 20th-annual Oxford Conference for the Book March 22. Nelson died in 2009 at age 80.
Nelson is legendary among journalists. His first reporting job began in 1947 at The Daily Herald in Biloxi. That’s where he earned the nickname Scoop as a cub reporter. He went on to become an investigative reporter for The Atlanta Constitution and Los Angeles Times where he was also the Washington Bureau chief.
Among the honors Nelson received were a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and the Drew Pearson Award for Investigative Reporting. He authored and co-authored five books on history-making events.
Hank Klibanoff, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle and the Awakening of a Nation and a journalism professor at Emory University, says Nelson was a seeker of truth. “That’s the highest praise you can give a journalist,” he said, “and he (Nelson) didn’t let people stop him, even though they tried — on the Mississippi Coast, in Georgia, in Bogalusa, La., and Washington, D.C. — everywhere Jack had a byline.”
Klibanoff, who also worked as a young reporter at The Daily Herald, notes that Nelson’s memoir is a lesson on journalistic propriety. “And it isn’t just seeking the truth but seeking it honestly, honorably and ethically, and being able to look in the eyes of the person about whom you are writing the day after publication,” he said.
Nelson witnessed and reported on historic events during turbulent times, and he interviewed many news makers, including presidents and ambassadors. His memoir, released this month, should be fascinating reading.