Sunday, February 19, 2012

Clarence Page: Giants at J-School

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Clarence Page responded to the email within minutes and gave some suggestions for my notes. I have re-numbered the points he mentions in the email (excerpt below), but his message makes sense if read with the PDF.

Here is what Page said:

I'm back!
I read through your notes and congratulate you on your good job.
I would only make the following suggestions for clarity:

I would replace lines 10, 11 and 12 with this:

Politics is all perception, in that sense, all political speech is code. Liberals, for example, like to speak of “have’s and have-nots.” But the conservative governor of Indiana told the nation, in his State of the Union address, that America is “a country of haves and soon-to-haves.” The nuances of difference speak to their different perceptions of opportunity in this country and what government’s role should be --or not be—in reducing income inequality *..........
......... Let me know if you have any other questions and, please, enjoy your weekend!

How can you avoid marginalizing yourself, pigeon-holing in a certain niche?

1) Try different things. For example, I wrote a lot of obits. Obits have the essence of everything and you have the last word! Get the name right, get the age right
2) Once you are recognized as good, you have very good chance of not being pigeon-holed
3) Then you have a platform, start writing about politics, social change, then move to Op-Ed
4) When I started out on general assignment, I really wanted to be an entertainment writer. For a year in my early days, I covered the religion beat by day and reviewed rock music concerts at night. I used to say that I was the only “rock-and-religion reporter in Chicago.”
5) Always be curious, always be ready to see

*Point 4 above is in Page's words, as sent in the email.

How important is it for a reporter to be an extrovert? Or can an introvert be a good journalist? I asked this question :)

Like anything else in life, like cliff diving, with journalism, know your own capabilities. We had an excellent reporter. She was not just an introvert, she was timid. She once went to cover a story on elephants in the circus. And in all the photos, she was visibly scared. She wrote a story about how difficult the assignment was for her. But the editors wanted something fun. They asked, “Did you not enjoy at all?” “NO!” But she eventually wrote a happier story and we found a photo where she seemed to smile. She was never comfortable being a reporter, she hated talking to strangers, calling up people. But she was excellent. Eventually she asked to be moved to the desk and she’s doing great. So, it doesn’t hurt to be extrovert, but if you are not, be true to yourself.

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