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J.C. Bruce

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J.C. Bruce (Jeffrey Carlton Bruce) is an American newspaper editor and columnist and author of The Strange Files series of humorous mystery novels featuring the protagonist Alexander Strange, a columnist for Tropic Press and the world's only full-time weird news reporter.

Early Life and Career[edit]

Bruce was born April 24, 1949 in Miami, Florida, but spent much of his childhood in the rural town of New Haven, Ohio until his family returned to Florida in 1965. He graduated from Dunedin (Florida) High School in 1967, did undergraduate studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and completed his bachelor's degree at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. He subsequently earned a Master's in Creative Writing from Antioch University Midwest in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Bruce's career in newspaper journalism began while a student at the University of South Florida when, at the age of 19, he was hired as a general assignment reporter at The Tampa Times, an afternoon daily. He spent his early years primarily covering the police beat. He crossed Tampa Bay in 1972 to become a copy editor at the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) and resigned his position as an assistant metropolitan editor to work as a press secretary in Washington, D.C. for U.S. Rep. Richard Kelly. Bruce returned to journalism after six months in the nation's capital and joined the staff of The Palm Beach Post, then the Miami Herald, and in 1977 became managing editor of the Austin American-Statesman in Austin, Tx. Subsequently, Bruce became executive editor of the Longview (Texas) News-Journal, executive editor of the Mesa (Arizona) Tribune, editor of the Dayton Daily News and editor-in-chief of Cox Ohio Publishing. He retired from the newspaper business to become the journalist-in-residence at Wright State University, a post he held for three years. Then became managing editor of the Naples (Florida) Daily News.

Bruce now devotes his time writing novels about the fictional newspaper and online reporter Alexander Strange whose columns, The Strange Files, are distributed on the Tropic Press website. His first four novels are The Strange Files, Florida Man, Get Strange, and Strange Currents. A fifth book--Mister Manners--is due to be released in the fall of 2021.

Casualties of Peace[edit]

[1]During his newspaper career, Bruce received numerous awards, including winning the Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his efforts on behalf of Freedom of the Press while leading Texas Media, a consortium of newspapers that successfully lobbied for and oversaw the enactment of major reforms to the state's Open Records laws. He twice judged entries for the Pulitzer Prize, served as a judge for the National Journalism Awards, and while he was editor of the Dayton Daily News the paper was three times named the best newspaper in Ohio by the Society of Professional Journalists.

In 2004, Bruce testified before the U.S. House International Relations Committee on the dangers Peace Corps volunteers face due to lack of agency oversight[2], the subject of a lengthy investigation published by the Dayton Daily News that received national attention. The reporters on the series, Russell Carollo and Mei-Ling Hopgood were honored with the Edgar A. Poe Award from the White House Correspondents Association, the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting, the Clark Mollenhoff Award, and were finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.[3]

Subsequent to the publication of the series, which took two years to report and edit--including the filing of a lawsuit by the newspaper against the Peace Corps as part of a records search--the International Relations Committee invited Bruce to testify and answer questions about the series. Following that day-long hearing, the committee passed out a bill that would bolster protections for Peace Corps volunteers.

During his testimony[4], Bruce pointed out that the newspaper's investigation found that since 1991 incidents of assaults against Peace Corps volunteers--the majority of whom were women--more than doubled.

The reporting on the series, Casualties of Peace, took reporters to 11 countries, involved more than 500 interviews, and dozens of Freedom of Information Requests. Among the findings were that a Peace Corps volunteer was robbed or assaulted every 23 hours. Immediately prior to the publication of the series, the Peace Corps director, Gaddi Vasquez, a major donor to President George W. Bush, announced he would be stepping down. and The Washington Post cited[5] the pending publication of the Dayton Daily News story as the reason--although Vasquez then delayed his departure until 2006.

"The extent of this safety problem has been disguised for decades," Bruce testified[6], "partly because the assaults occurred thousands of miles away, partly because the Peace Corps has made little effort to publicize them, and partly because the agency deliberately kept people from finding out while emphasizing the positive aspects of Peace Corps service." He further cited that "since 1961, more than 250 Peace Corps volunteers have died--including at least 20 who were murdered, others who perished under mysterious circumstances, and one volunteer, Walter Price, who has been missing since 2001. That represents a death rate of about one volunteer every two months."

Prior to publication of the series, Casualties of Peace, the Dayton Daily News was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for its series, The Foreign Game, which documented the illegal recruiting of foreign athletes to American schools.

Media Matters[edit]

In 2006, Bruce was the target of Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly's ire when he defended an editorial in the newspaper pointing out O'Reilly's sexual harassment issues that resulted in weeks-long controversy drawing the attention of MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann, Media Matters, and others.[7]

The editorial was in reaction to a demand O'Reilly made that Ohio Gov. Bob Taft "fire" a local judge for handing down a sentence he viewed as too lenient in a child molestation case, and he cited it as evidence of why plea bargains can be dangerous. The editorial pointed out that governors do not fire judges in Ohio; moreover, O'Reilly had recently accepted his own plea bargain in a multi-million-dollar sexual harassment case. In response, O'Reilly declared Bruce and the Dayton Daily News as "soft on child predators."

In Media Matters, Olbermann, who came to the defense of the newspaper, said: The "editorial in the Dayton Daily News asked the government not to ignore the evidently inappropriate lightness of the sentence but just to remember to go through the proper judicial channels, noting that, quote, 'Governor Taft, Attorney General Petro and Mr. O'Reilly should realize on a very personal level the importance of a legal system not inflamed by the politics of the moment. Mr. O'Reilly was sued by a female colleague for allegedly making sexual harassing telephone calls. Governor Taft recently had his own run-in with the law for ethics violations. Mr. Petro has been accused of soliciting political contributions from lawyers who receive state contracts. All three men could have been destroyed by a rush to judgment of the kind they are now inciting.'”[8]

O'Reilly went on the air urging advertisers to boycott the newspaper, and urged his viewers to write and email their concerns. More than 2,000 emails and letters poured into the newspaper in the subsequent weeks. In a column addressed to readers, Bruce characterized the situation thusly:

"They say only two things happen when you wrestle a pig. You get muddy and the pig enjoys it. ... Here's what's really happening: Mr. O'Reilly is upset with the newspaper because in an editorial we referred to his recent legal history in which he was accused of sexual harassment. His producer threatened that unless we published an apology they would resort to their 'bully pulpit.' That's what they've done. This isn't about being soft on child molesters. It's about Bill O'Reilly getting even.”[9]

In April 2017, Fox News terminated O'Reilly's contract after settling $13 million in claims of sexual harassment.[10]



  • The Strange Files (2019) ISBN: 978-1-7347848-0-0
  • Florida Man (2020) ISBN: 978-1-7342903-8-7
  • Get Strange (2020) ISBN:978-1-7347848-1-7
  • Strange Currents (2020) ISBN: 978-1-7342903-9-4
  • Mister Manners (2021) ISBN: 978-1-7347848-1-7

Book Reviews[edit]

  • Kirkus Reviews: Bruce’s prose is consistently crisp and controlled, and the tension between the various characters is genuinely entertaining throughout. A charming and suspenseful page-turner punctuated by dashes of the surreal.[11]
  • Online Book Club: Florida Man by J.C. Bruce will take you on a pleasant ride. It is full of twists and turns. It is simultaneously mystery and comedy…It’s a unique and entertaining plot. The dialogue was my favorite part of the novel…I would recommend this book to fans of mystery, murder, and mayhem… Those who do give it a try are sure to be as hooked as I am on the adventures of Alexander Strange.[12]
  • Florida Writers Association: This story has the feel of a dark Florida river chock-full of weird creatures and bizarre surprises as it winds its way through swamps to somewhere wonderfully strange.[13]
  • Bill Roorbach, author of The Smallest Color: Mystery, intrigue, and laugh-out-loud moments with a noir flavor that just won’t quit. Think Carl Hiaasen, Clark Kent, and a little Woodward and Bernstein…”
  • Jess Montgomery, author of The Widows: A fast-paced mystery that resonates with wit as delightfully dry and intrigue as heated as its Arizona setting…


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  1. "Dayton Daily News Editor Jeff Bruce directed 'Casualties of Peace'..." Peace Corps Online. December 6, 2006. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. "Dayton Daily News Editor Jeffrey Bruce's Statement on Safety of Peace Corps Volunteers..." Peace Corps Online. March 24, 2004. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. "Russell Carollo". Wikipedia. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. "US Congress Scrutinizes Peace Corps Volunteers' Security". VOA News. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. "Peace Corps Chief Does About-Face". The Washington Post. December 3, 2003. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  6. "Dayton Daily News Editor Jeffrey Bruce's Statement on Safety and Security of Peace Corps Volunteers..." Peace Corps Online. March 24, 2004. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  7. "O'Reilly:"The print press does not care about the children"". Media Matters. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. "O'Reilly: The print press does not care about the children". Media Matters for America. March 27, 2006. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  9. "O'Reilly: the print press does not care about the children". Media Matters. March 27, 2006. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  10. "Fox News drops Bill O'Reilly in wake of harassment allegations". April 19, 2017. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  11. "Florida Man". Kirkus Reviews. April 1, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  12. "Florida Man by J.C. Bruce". Online Book Club. May 1, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. "The Strange Files" Reviews". April 24, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)