The current issue of American Journalism Review features a very positive review of Scoop: The Evolution of a Southern Reporter by Jack Nelson and edited by Barbara Matusow. Scoop tells the story of a poor boy from Alabama who won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to become what Bob Woodward called “one of America’s toughest and greatest reporters.” The review draws attention to Nelson's "devotion to public service journalism in far-from-the-spotlight, grassroots America."
Nelson developed from a gullible cub reporter with the Biloxi Daily Herald into a pugnacious Pulitzer Prize winner at the Atlanta Constitution them moved on to the peerless beat reporter for the Los Angeles Times covering civil rights in the South. Nelson was dedicated to exposing injustice and corruption wherever he found it. Nelson proved himself to be one of those rare reporters whose work affected and improved thousands of lives
Carl Sessions Stepp provides an intimate review and relates this personal note from the memoir:
I admired Nelson from the time I was a college student in South Carolina. I watched with wannabe awe as Nelson, along with the Charlotte Observer's Jack Bass, dug into the 1968 slaying by state troopers of three South Carolina State College students protesting a segregated bowling alley.
The case produced an often-told anecdote. Nelson arrived at the hospital where the wounded students were treated. He identified himself "as being from the Atlanta bureau, and..said I was there to examine the medical records... The Atlanta bureau I mentioned was of course an office of the Los Angeles Times, but the way [the hospital administrator] quickly offered to help, he probably thought I was talking about the Atlanta office of the FBI."
Jack Nelson was indeed one of the most important journalists of the 20th century. In closing, Stepp points out that
Scoop is a good read and a primer about a passionate and persistent journalist who could be considered a model for a certain time: Anytime.