Stephen G. Bloom

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Stephen G. Bloom
W313 AJB
Office Hours:
Fall 2020: Tuesdays 12:30-3:30 via Zoom; email for appointment
BA 1973, University of California, Berkeley

What is Stephen’s story? 

Stephen G. Bloom's current work focuses on long-form nonfiction, oral history, and online narrative journalism. He teaches magazine reporting and writing, and media ethics in a digital age. Bloom was named the 2020 recipient of the Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Bloom is currently writing a biography of Jane Elliott, the Riceville, Iowa, third-grade schoolteacher who in 1968 devised what would become internationally known as the Blue-Eyes, Brown-Eyes Exercise, which alerted white students to the devastating personal impact of racism. Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2020.

Bloom’s latest book, The Audacity of Inez Burns: Dreams, Desire, Treachery & Ruin in the City of Gold (Regan Arts), is the story a San Francisco abortionist who performed 50,000 illegal abortions from 1910—1951. Here’s what Kirkus Reviews said about The Audacity of Inez Burns:

"In his latest book, Bloom . . . chronicles the life and exploits of Inez Burns (1886-1976), a flamboyant, unapologetic libertine who rose to prominence as the most notorious abortionist in California in the first half of the 20th century. Born in San Francisco to a hardscrabble, no-nonsense mother and an alcoholic father, Burns refused the limited life options available to women of the era. Taken under the wing of a charming suitor who also happened to be an abortionist, she learned how to perform the procedure herself. Before long, she opened her own facility and became the most in-demand abortion provider in California as well as a major player in San Francisco's underworld. Eventually, her success provoked the ire of up-and-coming district attorney Pat Brown.…Bloom's San Francisco is almost a character in itself, as he provides a rich history of the city as well as insight into the changing tides of 20th-century culture, especially regarding nascent feminism and the struggle for reproductive rights. While Burns possessed many traits worthy of admiration, she was not without a dark side, and Bloom's portrait is by no means that of a saint, despite his sympathy for his subject. The author's prose is breezy and conversational, and his subject is controversial enough to make the book read more like a thriller than an academic biography, despite the breadth of scholarship on display.… Burns receives the storyteller she deserves and can now occupy her proper place in the intersectional histories of feminism, law, and the San Francisco underworld."

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Bloom and photographer Peter Feldstein are the co-authors of The Oxford Project (Welcome Books, 2010). The large-format book takes an unflinching look at life in a small Iowa town. Reviews and stories have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Smithsonian, ABC World News Tonight, CBS Sunday Morning,, National Public Radio (2), Harvard University's Nieman Reports, The Atlantic, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, and the Minneapolis Post. The Oxford Project won the Alex Award from the American Library Association.

Bloom is the author of Tears of Mermaids: The Secret Story of Pearls (St. Martin's Press, 2009), a nonfiction detective story that tracks the cultural, economic and political saga of the world’s oldest gem. Tears of Mermaids begins with Columbus’s third voyage to the New World, and completes a 30,000-mile trek the author takes to Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, French Polynesia, China, Venezuela, the Philippines, and New York. Selected reviews: The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Publishers Weekly, Orion, and

Bloom’s Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America (Harcourt, 2000) descends into a small Iowa town after 150 Lubavitcher Jews settle, buy the local slaughterhouse, and become the community’s powerbrokers. Postville was named a Best Book of the year by MSNBC, the Chicago Sun-Times, Denver Rocky Mountain News, Chicago Tribune, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Inside the Writer's Mind: Writing Narrative Journalism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2002) is a collection of Bloom's articles and essays.

Bloom has been named Iowa Author of the Year, and has held fellowships at the MacDowell Colony and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University's Center for the Study of Society and Medicine. He was the Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer at the Reynolds School of Journalism, University of Nevada, Reno, as well as the Howard R. Marsh Visiting Professor of Journalism in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan.

Prior to joining the Iowa faculty in 1993, Bloom was a staff writer at the Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, and Dallas Morning News. He was the Brazil correspondent for the Field News Service and national news editor at the Latin America Daily Post. Bloom served as press secretary for San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan. Bloom's work has appeared in Smithsonian, The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, Wilson Quarterly, DoubleTake, Chronicle of Higher Education, American Journalism Review, Columbia Journalism Review, International Herald Tribune, Chicago Tribune, Money, Journal of Health Communication, Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, American Editor, The Californians, Pharos, Wapsipinicon Almanac, Quill, Narratively, and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Bloom is the author of a 22,000-word story about the enduring, trans-generational impact of a 1964 murder that appeared in, as well as an examination of the quadrennial Iowa Caucuses in

Bloom is co-founder (with Professor Hanno Hardt) of the Iowa Journalists Oral History Project, the first online chronicle of the contributions of Iowa’s senior journalists.