Fifty years ago when the Pulitzer Prizes were awarded, politics — not merit — kept Harrison Salisbury from winning the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. This week’s announcement (see below) of the latest prizes brings this sad tale to mind. Salisbury was a reporter and editor for the New York Times who already had […]
A journalist needs something to write about: Richard Ben Cramer, Alex Rodriguez and the book that did not get written
In 2006 Cramer sold both his publisher and his subject on a book about Alex Rodriguez, the star of the New York Yankees who was recently banned for a year by Major League Baseball for taking banned substances. The book had the title, The Importance of Being Alex: A Life with the Yankees. He had […]
Some professors ban laptops, tablets and smart phones from their classrooms, seeing them as distractions for their students. Instead, they should welcome them as tools for engagement.
A news website gives scholastic journalists the opportunity to do something they’ve never done — practice “daily journalism.”
In April 1961, a few months after taking office as president of the United States, John F. Kennedy spoke to the American Newspaper Publishers Association about the importance of maintaining an open government. In the speech he said, “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a […]
Reporting is hard work. It is frustrating and difficult. Reporters are constantly called upon to use their wit and imagination, to think of where information is and who has it — and then to persuade those who have it to give it up. Reporters do not have subpoena power. They cannot compel sources to part […]
Chapter 8 in Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How emphasizes how difficult it is to be a reporter. That’s certainly true. But it’s also fun.
One of the continuing practical problems that arises often in the nation’s newsrooms is how to handle direct quotations.
Students sometimes get mixed up about what constitutes plagiarism, but journalists should never let that happen. They should understand that plagiarism is one of the worst things they can do, and they should know how to avoid it.
Many journalists say (sometimes jokingly, sometimes not) that they got into the profession because they would not have to deal with a lot of math. For most working reporters, however, that turns out not to be the case.
One of the criticisms of journalism is that reporters report events as events only, rather than giving them any context.
For generations, the journalism culture demanded that young reporters cut their teeth on obituary stories – “writing obits,” we would say. The thinking was that obituaries were easy to write and possibly not very interesting or important.
Religion and religious topics are not particularly welcomed in a newsroom. That is why years such as 2004, when religion is a big part of some of the year’s biggest stories (gay marriage, the presidential election, Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of Christ,” etc.) are tough for journalists. Why then are editors and news directors […]
Abraham Lincoln began the Gettysburg Address with the words, “About a century ago, the dudes that started it all . . .” Well, ok. Those weren’t exactly the words, but they are “essentially accurate.” That’s the standard that Detroit Free Press sportswriter Mitch Albom imposed upon himself in handling direct quotations for his column. Apparently, […]
That is the basic finding of a new study conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The basic finding is probably not surprising, but what is impressive and important is how widespread and consistent is the tendency of journalists to use men rather than women as sources […]
Numbers are funny things — especially for journalists. They sound so definite and authoritative. Numbers represent facts in a seemingly indisputable way. They are easy to use and easy to understand. But numbers should always be checked for context and source. One journalist who regularly examines the source and context of numbers is Carl Bailik, […]
It’s the first week of class in your reporting class. Your students are bright and eager — and they don’t have a clue about what they are supposed to do. You want to get them into the field quickly, but you’re afraid (rightly so) to unleash them on an unsuspecting campus. The solution: a preview […]
The web has pretty much rendered obsolete the adage that says you should never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel and newsprint by the ton. Today there is less fear and frustration with the news media on the part of those outside the profession, and there is more willingness […]
Two poems by Robert Louis Stevenson
In this week’s newsletter
Read about the new book Ole Bert: Sage of the Smokies that Jim has just edited and produced for the Blount County Public Library.
Point Spread on Amazon
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