Published Works of Aaron
A Personal History
||Journalism is about real live human beings. In fiction,
characters must appear real. In journalism, they are.
“A world is waiting for those with the eyes to see
it,” says journalist William (Bill) Ruehlmann. “The
writer knows that the miraculous happens routinely, the
extraordinary is commonplace.” Growing up in Manhattan,
I never felt I had to improve on reality. The city was
I was an omnivorous reader. This was a time before television.
My brother and I had our own library cards. Every two
weeks we walked from our apartment on 15th Street to the
23rd Street library to load up on books.
The newspapers came every day. The sewing machine operators
and plastic jewelry makers who worked in the lofts above
my parent’s restaurant would bring the Daily News
and the Mirror with them in the mornings. The Puerto Ricans
had tucked El Diario under their arms. The guys in the
suits who worked in the Con Edison Building carried the
Times or the Herald-Tribune.
People left our restaurant with their containers of coffee,
corn muffins, fried eggs on Kaiser roll and Danish. The
newspapers remained at the counter. I devoured them.
Like the clock at the top of the Con Ed building,
the soda fountain in my parent’s restaurant and
the soap box orators in Union Square Park, New York’s
newspapers were part of the city’s texture.
On Mondays, we’d read a New York Times “Week
in Review” supplement scaled down for grade school.
I can’t recall anything else about elementary
school. But I remember the pleasure of reading and discussing
those news articles.
On Sundays, I took a pencil to write my own newspaper
on an unlined 8 x 11 sheet of paper with masthead, headlines
and three columns. The newspaper had a circulation of
By high school, I had moved up to the position of editor
of the school paper. Under my high school yearbook photo,
my ambition was “to be editor of the New York
|During the 1960s, I wrote for a number of what were
then known as “underground newspapers”. Some
of these alternative newspapers appeared weekly. Other
papers appeared whenever we would sell enough street copies
to pay the printer for another issue.
I managed to acquire a bachelor’s degree at the
University of New Mexico studying journalism with James
Crow and Tony Hillerman. After college, I drifted away
In the movies, a character encounters an event that complicates
his life in act one. He attempts to overcome the complication
in act two. Gradually, the character changes and he figures
out how to solve the complication. There’s a resolution
in act three.
Life is messier. Resolutions often don’t happen.
Or as Jon Franklin says, “Most people are confused,
and they stay confused”.
|Journalism pays poorly. Unless you’re an “A-list”
writer, don’t count on making big bucks. Many journalists
I know—especially the free lancers—left journalism
to go into public relations, advertising, law or completely
unrelated fields. I remember once interviewing a guy who
had been a hell of a writer in his young days. Now he
worked as a desk editor at the Chronicle. Only on occasion
did he write about his great passion--birding. What happened,
I asked him.
“I got married,” he
said, “and before I knew it, I had three kids and
a pile of bills. I needed a steady paycheck. So I took
a job as an editor. They always need good editors.”
I went into healthcare. I went to school and became a
respiratory therapist. I worked in hospitals for 15 years.
I went back to school again and became a registered nurse.
I’ve been actively nursing since 1994. May all those
who care for the sick daily be blessed with courage and
During the 1980s, I worked in broadcast journalism including
a stint at newsradio KTRH and as a voice for “Roadwatch
America”, a syndicated overnight radio feature aimed
||I started freelancing again. In 1994, I became a contributing
writer with the Jewish Herald-Voice in Houston; and then
a staff writer in 1999.
I’ve won the Boris Smolar Award, American Jewish
Press Association for "Excellence in Comprehensive
Coverage or Investigative Reporting" in 2003, The
Texas Press Association’s First Place Award for
“News Writing” in 2004, and a Simon Rockower
First Place award, American Jewish Press Association,
for “Excellence in Arts and Criticism” in
Let me tell you about two mentors: Jon Franklin and Stephen
Franklin is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author
of “Writing For Story”. The traditional short
story and non-fiction reporting are essentially the same
form says Franklin. There’s a formula that governs
this form. The formula is simple and elegant. Master the
key implications of this formula and you’ll at minimum
conquer story structure. From Franklin, I’ve learned
the craft of writing.
Fried is an investigative reporter and the author of “The
New Rabbi”. The book describes the private and public
events that unfolded when a large influential Philadelphia
Reform synagogue set out to hire a new spiritual leader.
Fried covered the shul as closely as a journalist would
cover the police or city hall beat. He brought the principles
of American journalism to a subject rarely even covered
in the Anglo-Jewish press. From Fried, I’ve learned
to show the inherent human drama that’s waiting
to be discovered in the lives of American Jews as Jews.
The extraordinary is commonplace.
|I write for a relatively small circulation Jewish weekly.
Like all journalists, I work against a deadline. As George
Orwell said “What emerges from such an effort may
be ugly, but it will be reliable.”
The ever patient and wise Marilyn Svoboda is my better
half. We have two daughters, Gabrielle and Yardena.
From the Siddur, I’ve learned that the Lord cherishes
our fragmented lives. Make our lives whole again through