Herb Strentz

2022 election merits more concern than Iowa caucuses

Herb Strentz was dean of the Drake School of Journalism from 1975 to 1988 and professor there until retirement in 2004. He was executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council from its founding in 1976 to 2000.

Worse things could befall Iowa and the nation than the Iowa caucus losing its “first-in-the-nation” status in presidential election years.

For example, it might be worse if the state kept that status and was viewed as a bellwether in the 2024 election.

Let’s face it. Iowa has little left of the virtues that had the state press routinely boasting about Iowa being “the center of the political universe” when it came to January and February every four years.

For an art-becomes-life perspective, consider a 1947 movie that kind of foretold the story of the Iowa caucuses.

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Notes on 75 years of flying saucers

Herb Strentz, a frequent contributor to Bleeding Heartland, wrote his Northwestern University PhD dissertation on press coverage of flying saucers/unidentified flying objects. He also was a research associate with the Defense Department project on UFOs conducted by the University of Colorado in the late 1960s.

I offer some bits of UFO trivia and story telling as part of the 75th anniversary of the onset of the flying saucer phenomenon. That’s generally taken to be June 24, 1947, when Kenneth Arnold, a private pilot from Boise, Idaho, reported seeing disc-like objects over the Cascade Mountains.

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"Lest we forget" is not about a shopping list

Herb Strentz reflects on Memorial Day after witnessing Australia’s holiday to honor fallen soldiers.

Memorial Day will soon be upon us. A reminder came via email: “Memorial Day Sale! Save big this year.”

A Google search for “Memorial Day Sale” yielded about 21 million results.

The graveside floral and flag tributes we often see this weekend are reassurance that somber reflection and dear memories are more important than “SAVE BIG!” in your shopping.

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On an Australian travelogue and Iowa travesties

Herb Strentz contrasts charming Australia molehills with troubling American mountains.

While spending a month in Australia, I found some charming molehills. Sadly, though, the “molehills” did not provide needed diversion from the troubling mountains of discord and lies in Iowa public life.

Way back in 1989, in a PBS program, “The Truth About Lies,” Bill Moyers asked, “…can a nation die of too many lies?” A reprise of that program today might straightforwardly declare, “Our nation is dying of too many lies.”

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Believe it or not, Donald Trump told the "truth"

Herb Strentz: Trump’s lies may be troubling, but the failure of our elected GOP leaders to speak up against them should be even more troubling.

The aphorism “If a man bites a dog, that’s news,” has been attributed to a few newspaper characters. One was John Bogart (1848-1921), city editor of the New York Sun, one of that city’s liveliest newspapers in the late 19th century.

That’s why some 100 years later, I named our Sheltie puppy “Bogie.” That was much easier than making something out of Alfred Harmsworth — a British newspaper guy also credited with the line.

“Man bites dog!” defined news as something out of the expected or quite contrary to our daily experiences. You know, like Donald Trump telling the “truth.”

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Book review: Grab the Moment, a well-woven memoir

Herb Strentz reviews a memoir by the French photojournalist Fabrice Moussus.

Suppose you are reading someone’s memoir or autobiography, and the author declares early on, “I have been able to pack more in my one life than several lives put together.”

That may strike you as pompous, or at best, immodest.

Those words come near the end of Grab the Moment, Fabrice Moussus’ account of how he spent the better part of three decades filming and reporting warfare and mayhem in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

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