I’m a journalism professor, and one of the questions I’m most often asked by students is this: “Should I record my interviews, or just take notes?” It’s a good question, but one that reflects the insecurity journalism students feel when they go out to do their first interviews. Many are concerned that if they simply take notes they won’t be able to get down everything the interviewee says. So here are my thoughts on the pros and cons of notebooks versus recorders. Notebooks: The classic reporter’s notebook is a time-honored tool of journalists everywhere, and for good reason. The reporter’s notebook is the ultimate low-tech,Read More →


Journalism students tend to fret a lot about learning the newswriting format. But learning to write a news story is relatively easy, and any experienced journalist will tell you that reporting is at the heart of what the news business is all about. And when it comes to reporting, there is nothing more important than learning to be a good interviewer. So here are six important tips to keep in mind when doing any interview. Do plenty of preparation. Preparation means doing background research before the interview, both about the interviewee and the subject you will be discussing. Nothing inspires confidence in an interviewee moreRead More →


The headline on a well-known journalism website – “There are now more Americans working for online-only outlets than newspapers” – seemed to be yet another one of those sign-of-the-times studies showing how print journalism is going the way of the dinosaurs in the brave new digital world. And someone not reading the accompanying article carefully might get the impression that there are now more journalists working specifically for online-only news websites – the Buzzfeeds and the Huffington Posts of the world – than for newspapers. But that’s not exactly what the numbers show. The article was based on data from the U.S. Bureau of LaborRead More →


I’ve already talked about the basics of writing a lead, and the idea that it should summarize the main points of the story using the 5W’s and the H. But experienced reporters know there’s another important element to writing a lead – grabbing the reader’s attention. After all, journalists are writing to be read, and with the lead they have one chance to convince the news consumer to dive into their story. To do this you must figure out which element of a story is most newsworthy and interesting, and make that that the focus of your lead. Start by looking at the 5W’s andRead More →


So you’re in college and have decided you want to someday be a journalist. But you’re not sure what you should be doing now to increase your chances of landing a job in the news business after graduation. Fear not. I’ve been working in journalism, either as a reporter, editor or professor, for over 30 years. I’ve counseled dozens of students on what they can do to increase their marketability in the job market. Here are the five things I tell them to do, and while I can’t guarantee that these measures will work, they will certainly increase your chances. Write for your student newspaperRead More →