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The J.L. Miller internship

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The J.L. Miller internship provides a $1,000 stipend and is available to residents of Delaware who will be interning at a Delaware publication. Lyn B. Arnold established the stipend through a gift in memory of her husband in 2013.

'Elder statesman' of political reporters, editor with headline flair
J.L. Miller

​James Lenox Miller

​When a journalist can write his own obituary and leave the reader smiling, you know that the journalist was as good a writer as they come.

James Lenox Miller wrote that he followed in his father's footsteps into journalism, "despite his father's example," adopting J.L. for his byline to make sure readers could tell them apart. In one of dozens of humorous asides in his obituary, he wrote that his wife "used to joke that she knew him 'before he had initials.'"

That wife was Lyn B. Arnold, "the love of his life," whom he met at a party when they were both students at the University of Delaware.

Doctor of discretion story

​J.L. Miller's stories helped remove the shroud of secrecy over a black-market baby operation in Middletown in the '30s.

Miller's first job was as a reporter for a now-defunct weekly newspaper in Denton, Md., covering courts and the Caroline County Commission.

In 1977, he moved on to the Delaware State News, reporting on the Sussex County Council and the criminal courts before taking over the General Assembly beat.

It was there that Miller, who graduated with a political science degree, developed what he called a "longstanding love/hate relationship with politicians and politics in general."

He briefly left his "beloved Delaware and bride-to-be" in search of greener paychecks at the Daily Press in Newport News, Va. However, when a copy editing job opened up at the News Journal, he returned because "his heart and his sweetheart remained in Delaware."

He finished his duty on the desk as "the 'slot' - the editor who makes the final edit before the story goes to print," his obituary reads. "He was known as a strict grammarian, a master of the AP Stylebook and a man with a flair for writing colorful headlines on deadline."

He moved on to a reporting job in the newpaper's Dover bureau, covering the city and nearby communities. He was "particularly proud" of his coverage that helped lead to the ouster of Smyrna's  mayor and revealed the long-hidden story of Dr. Jerome Niles' black-market baby operation in Middletown in the 1930s and '40s.

Despite his love/hate relationship with politics, he returned to the General Assembly beat. The feeling wasn't mutual, as when he retired, the House honored him with a tribute lauding him as the "elder statesman" of the legislative press corp.

Miller's deft writing was apparent throughout his reporting. All good reporters know the power of the beginning of a story, the lead. Miller, however, also knew the power of endings, as he showed in this story about the dedication of the Delaware Law Enforcement Memorial in 2010:

"The names of the officers were read, one by one, starting with that of Officer John F. Baylis, a Wilmington city officer who died Sept. 9, 1863.

"As each name was read, a bell tolled, and a single rose was placed on the memorial in tribute.

"The final name on the monument is that of Georgetown Officer Chad Spicer, slain on Sept. 1, 2009. Little Aubrey Spicer, the officer's daughter, joined her family members in placing the rose.

"Three police helicopters flew in formation over the crowd in tribute, and as they disappeared into the night, it began to rain."

We'll end this story the way Miller always ended his:

 -30-

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  • The Journalism Program
  • 207 Memorial Hall
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • 302-831-3870
  • journalism@udel.edu