Saturday, April 22, 2006

Samuel G. Freedman on Poynter Online

"Letters to a Young Journalist" doesn't shy away from the hard truths of the newsroom. "Journalism," Freedman writes, "is a business of proving yourself anew every single story, every single day... None of us are in this for the money or the acclaim."
Samuel G. Freedman

Poynter Online, everything you need to be a better journalist ...

It's an interesting site but today it was the article titled 'The Wisdom of Ages: Letters to a Young Journalist' that drew me in.

Chip Scanlan's interview with Samuel G. Freedman, 'author of a new book of wisdom for young (and not-so-young-anymore) journalists' is worth reading.

Scanlan quotes John Steinbeck's words to a young writer in the introduction to his interview with Freedman: "Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theatre, it doesn't exist. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person, a real person you know, or an imagined person -- and write to that one."

There's an excerpt from Freedman's book here, taken from the chapter titled 'Tacking'

As a reporter you will be tacking, too, between the shores of truth and justice, trying to hold your direction true north. Our lives would be easier, though much less interesting, if truth and justice were always on the same side, if human events were a pageant of good versus evil. As the Rwanda genocide and the Enron fraud show, there are times when the world does divide in such a polar way, and those times can lift a burden from a journalist's conscience.

Chip asked, 'Why did you write "Letters to a Young Journalist?' and Freedman replied with, 'The narrow, literal answer would be that Basic Books asked me. Basic has been doing a series of mentoring books modeled on [Rainer Maria] Rilke's famous "Letters To A Young Poet.'"

But I liked this part of his answer more, I savored the chance to write about how a journalist encounters the world, engages with it, makes sense of it in written or broadcast form. posts some great stories. Yes, guilty again but I needed to write this up for future reference.

No comments: