We met at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1985, married two years later, and the next day moved to Zimbabwe, where we operated our own news bureau for three years for a variety of American newspapers. Other clients included the national radio services of the UK, the Netherlands, and Germany, as well as National Public Radio. Living variously thereafter in Missoula, Montana; Boulder, Colorado; Cofradía de Suchitlán, Mexico; Watsonville, California; and back to Boulder, we produced many articles for national magazines, and four books: Smoke and Mirrors, Citizen Coors, Nine Lives, and Gun Guys: A Road Trip.
Ever since our daughter, Rosa, was born in 1993, our work has usually appeared under Dan’s byline. Non-fiction frequently calls for a strong individual voice, and occasionally the use of the first person, so double bylines often aren’t practical. Dan most often does the legwork of reporting the story — the travel and the phone calls — with Margaret acting as bureau chief by phone and text: “Ask this.” “Don’t forget that.” “Go back to him tomorrow.” Dan then writes the first draft.
Writing a first draft is somewhat akin to moving a big block of marble into a sculptor’s studio. It takes some skill and a lot of stamina, but it isn’t art. The art begins when Margaret gets her hands on the manuscript, which goes back and forth many times before completion. Editing a piece often takes longer than it took to research and write the first draft. “Dan Baum” is the brand name of this joint operation. Everything that goes out under the byline “Dan Baum” is at least half Margaret’s work. This website carries his name instead of both in order to match the byline.