Early Days: Meeting the future syndicated columnist Molly Ivins
by Brian McGuinness 8-12-2010

Back to Philly and the Investigative Reporters & Editors Conference: Texas journalist Molly Ivins was the IRE keynote speaker and one of the most entertaining and informative speakers that I can recall hearing before or since. I seriously considered applying to journalism school after this experience & having the opportunity of speaking with Molly one on one at a cocktail reception.

She was surely a journalist with a lot of “pluck”. She was fired by the NY Times for refusing to change the title of a piece she wrote while their Texas correspondent. She wrote about a town in Mexico where everyone got together once a year for a chicken plucking festival. The article had the words “Gang-pluck” in the title. She was told by the editor to change the title and she refused; it cost her her job. She had been quoted before about hating to be copy-edited by the Times. They reportedly once changed her description of a man “with a beer gut that belonged in the Smithsonian” to a man “with a protuberant abdomen”. I think you can see why she rebelled, risked her job and left!

She was an original larger than life character… someone who did not hold back punches and trying to contain her must have been a real challenge for many an editor. Sadly, she passed away while in her early 60’s in 2007. The New York Times wrote : “In her syndicated column, which appeared in about 350 newspapers, Ms. Ivins cultivated the voice of a folksy populist who derided those who she thought acted too big for their britches. She was rowdy and profane, but she could filet her opponents with droll precision”.

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