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 →

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A professor from another college recently sought my advice about how to rejuvenate his school’s journalism program. He asked me two questions, one easy, the other not so much. First, the easy one: What skills will be the most critical for a student who hopes to enter the journalism job market in the next five years? I’m old-school. I still believe the most important skills to teach journalism students are solid, dogged reporting and clear, lucid writing. That’s the primary focus of the classes I teach. So how do we make this exciting for students born in the 21st century? Well, we have this old-schoolRead More →

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For aspiring journalists, the news about the news business can be pretty depressing. Each week seems to bring fresh stories about print or online news outlets laying off reporters and editors in order to cut costs. This was brought home to me recently when the New York Daily News, the once-mighty Big Apple tabloid where I toiled as a reporter and editor years ago, cut its newsroom staff in half, leaving a skeleton crew to cover the nation’s largest city. Statistics tell the story. The Pew Research Center recently reported that at least 36 percent of the largest newspapers in the U.S. – as wellRead More →

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As a journalism professor at a community college where the student newspaper is still just that – a paper – people sometimes ask me why we haven’t followed the lead of some other colleges by eliminating our print edition and going all-digital. The answers to this question are key to understanding how the news business really works, as opposed to how some would like us to think it works. Needless to say, it has a lot to do with money. What do I mean? Well, a group of people whom I call the digital zealots have been telling everyone for the better part of twoRead More →

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It’s early in the semester and students at the college where I teach journalism have just turned in their first articles for the student newspaper. Most of them are really good, but as always there are a few common mistakes that students make early on. Here are some of the problems I see most frequently: Long leads and long paragraphs – Remember, news stories should use a one-sentence lead. And paragraphs in news stories should generally be just 1 to 2 sentences each. I can always tell when someone has written their first news story, because it’s invariably full of giant paragraphs that look likeRead More →