Jon Franklin, Pioneering Apostle of Literary Journalism, Dies at 82

Jon Franklin, an apostle of narrative short-story style journalism whose own work won the first Pulitzer Prizes awarded for feature writing and explanatory journalism, died on Sunday in Annapolis, Md. He was 82.

His death, at a hospice, came less than two weeks after falling at his home, his wife, Lynn Franklin, said. He had also been treated for esophageal cancer for two years.

An author, teacher, reporter and editor, Mr. Franklin championed the nonfiction style that was celebrated as New Journalism but that was actually vintage narrative storytelling, an approach that he insisted still adhere to the old-journalism standards of accuracy and objectivity.

He imparted his thinking about the subject in “Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction” (1986), which became a go-to how-to guide for literary-minded journalists.

In 1979, Mr. Franklin won the first Pulitzer ever given for feature writing for his two-part series in The Baltimore Evening Sun titled “Mrs. Kelly’s Monster.”

His vivid eyewitness account transported readers into an operating room where a surgeon’s agonizing struggle to save the life of a woman whose brain was being squeezed by a rogue tangle of blood vessels illuminated the marvels and margins of modern medicine.


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