20 Observations on Newspaper Reporting

  1. ALTHOUGH THEY RELY ON THEM, few people say they actually trust the news media. (I call it “Ross’ Paradox.”)
  2. Everybody has a story. And many want to share it.
  3. Newswriting is a form of reality-creation, wherein readers trust you to describe the world beyond their immediate perceptions. Don’t ever abuse that trust.
  4. Every face is a door, and if you knock just right, you’ll be invited in to witness wonders.
  5. First-responders have the darkest sense of humor of anyone outside of reporters. It’s an evolutionary strategy that serves both well.
  6. Deadlines wait for no one.
  7. Getting it fast is no substitute for getting it right.
  8. Own your mistakes.
  9. Requests for revisions and rewrites aren’t personal, so don’t take them that way.
  10. Everybody wants to see their name in print.
  11. Nobody wants to see their name in print.
  12. The quickest way to get someone to return your call is to leave a message along the lines of, “If I can’t reach them for comment by deadline, I’ll have to say, ‘they could not be reached for comment by deadline.'”
  13. The search for excellence is never-ending.
  14. If you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. But if you still think so, it may be time to retire.
  15. Likewise if you think you know it all.
  16. Sometimes, it’s a mill. But don’t let that grind you down.
  17. If you spend more than a year on the job, expect to write the same story more than once. (Especially cyclic or seasonal stories.)
  18. Never use your real name as a byline.
  19. Succinctness counts.
  20. The only way Out is Through.

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