Check It Out! Great Reporters on What It Takes to Tell the Story

Check It Out! Great Reporters on What It Takes to Tell the Story

Check It Out! Great Reporters on What It Takes to Tell the Story

Check It Out! Great Reporters on What It Takes to Tell the Story


Stories with no substance. Talking heads without a clue. Teamcoverage that still misses the big picture. Overheated hype. Cute chatter. Film at eleven. Is it any wonder more and more of us count less and less on the news? "It used to be that a news story told you who, what, where, when, how, and why," Art Athens writes. "Now the story might tell you who, or it might tell you when, but there's a good chance that when it's over (which won't take long), you'll be the one saying What?" Here's a legendary journalist's back to the basics guide to the craft of broadcast news. Combining insights from his own award-winning career with in-depth conversations with leading newspeople, Art Athens offers a primer on the best practices in reporting, writing, and delivering the news. And he lets some of the best in the business talk frankly and passionately about what it takes to do the job right: Dan Rather, Charles Osgood, Mike Wallace, Brian Williams, Andy Rooney, Charles Kuralt, Linda Ellerbee, and Don Hewitt. What kind of skills - and spirit - does it take to be a successful, serious broadcast journalist? How are the good stories conceived and written? And in today's cynical age of news as entertainment, what should reporters and editors do to restore confidence in the media? In this funny, sharp, honest book, anyone who cares about the news will find answers on every page.


“If your pulse doesn’t increase measurably
when you walk into a newsroom, get out!”


I waited until I was sure no one was home. She kept it in the hall closet, hidden behind a wall of winter coats. I pulled it out from between the coats and excitedly rolled it to a spot in front of a full-length mirror. I got my clippings, culled from that day’s New York Herald Tribune; stood facing the curved handle of my mother’s upright vacuum cleaner; and intoned in my squeaky nine-year-old voice, “This is Artie Athens with the latest news.” My mother’s Hoover was my first microphone.

It was 1948, and even then I knew. This was all I ever wanted to be: a radio journalist reporting the news. I longed to be able to say, “This is CBS News” on the air, just as the announcers did when my mother and I listened to the evening news. This was my dream.

I stuck with that dream, and I made it. I reached the top of my field in the number one market in the world and got to say “CBS News” a thousand times over. I somehow never doubted I would make it and supposed that anyone could if they had the right attitude, were good at their craft, were lucky, and were tireless. Or could they?

Move the clock forward almost fifty years, to my retirement party at New York City’s Gracie Mansion in 1995. A colleague addressed the crowd about the state of journalism, and what he had to say disturbed me. Journalism was practically dead, he declared. No good journalists were . . .

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