So you’re taking your first editing course, or you’ve signed on to be an editor on your student newspaper or website. Congratulations. Editing is obviously a very different skill from reporting or writing, but these are complimentary skills. Being a good writer makes you a better editor, and vice versa. You probably think of editing as fixing things like grammar, spelling and Associated Press style. You’d be party right. Editing can actually be broken down into two broad categories, what I call macro and micro editing. Take a look at the graphic above. This is the organizational structure of a typical newsroom. On the leftRead More →

Pete Hamill courtesy Wikipedia

The one and only time I worked with an honest-to-god legend in my career as an ink-stained wretch was when, for a brief period in the 1990s, Pete Hamill was editor in chief of the New York Daily News, and I was an editor on the national desk. I didn’t interact with Pete much; he was, understandably, primarily focused on coverage of the city, the tabloid’s raison d’etre. I do recall coming in late to work one morning at the paper’s old West 33rd Street headquarters. Speed-walking down the corridor lined with famous Daily News front pages, I suddenly found Pete next to me, headedRead More →


I’ve slogged away in many newsrooms over the years but the very first one I ever worked in was at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where, in the early 1980s, students published a plucky little weekly paper punningly titled the Parkside Ranger. It was there that I met Rick Luehr. Rick was a gangly and bespectacled young man who would have been quite tall had he not had a perpetual stoop, this due to the fact that he had lost the use of his legs at a young age and was left to make his way through the world on crutches or, later, a wheelchair. TheRead More →


Many journalists say it’s time to jettison traditional objectivity and focus more directly on pursuing the truth. As I wrote in a previous post, I think objectivity is still a valuable newsgathering tool. But one thing that complicates this discussion is the fact that there are different kinds of truth. Some truths are the kind reporters can uncover and illuminate. Others, not so much. For example, let’s say your editor assigns you to write a story about whether the death penalty has been an effective deterrent to crime. In other words, do states with the death penalty have lower homicide rates than those without? ForRead More →

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Every few years, an old debate re-emerges in journalism: Is objectivity a good thing? The debate goes something like this: Objectivity opponents argue that journalism at its best should be about the pursuit of truth. Traditional he said-she said reporting, which requires that journos document both sides of every argument and refrain from making their own judgments, may be objective but does nothing to reveal the truth, they say. Journalist Wesley Lowery recently summed up this view in a tweet: American view-from-nowhere, “objectivity”-obsessed, both-sides journalism is a failed experiment. We need to fundamentally reset the norms of our field. The old way must go. WeRead More →