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Archive for December 12th, 2008

‘You want me on that wall! You need (a good journalist) on that wall!

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For 20 years, I was a newsman. A damned good one. I learned the craft from good newsmen who learned it from other good newsmen before me. No steenkin’ journalism school for me.

I learned to parse cop code by making daily phone calls to the cops to get the police log — and often walked to the cop shop and read it myself when the damned desk sergeant wouldn’t read it to me. I learned by paying attention to details. I listened to what sources said — always more than one, y’know — and wrote it down. I had a newsroom godfather who taught me well: “Get it right. Period.” I only used anonymous sources three times in 20 years.

One day Editor Bob said he’d heard somebody was going to build a nuclear plant up river. “Find out,” he said. I did. I had to learn how nukes operated in less than two hours before going to the presser for the announcement. I was the only newsman who asked: “Will this be a boiling water or pressurized water reactor?” Hell, the PR types didn’t know. I did. I knew the in’s and out’s of each. Score one for me. I learned the beat quickly. I reported what the utility and the government didn’t want my readers to know. I wore a button given to me by my news editor: “Question Authority.” I found facts — so my readers found out something they needed to know.
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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

December 12, 2008 at 11:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized