Magazine article The Quill

Research for 'Real People'

Magazine article The Quill

Research for 'Real People'

Article excerpt

"You will meet a lot of interesting people in journalism," Linda Ellerbee once observed.

"Most of them are other journalists."

Few things fascinate journalists more than each other. Put a bunch of us in a room together and the conversation invariably drifts toward open record requests and whether or not anal retentive has a hyphen.

Meanwhile, the "civilians" start frantically searching for the fire escape.

Writing a journalism book that appeals to journalists presents as big a challenge as writing a "Star Trek" book that appeals to trekkies. The core audience of geeks remains stable.

Making other people care about journalism - especially in a society where we routinely lose popularity polls to gingivitis - requires a certain level of genius.

You must convince people that all this stuff about the right to know and freedom of information is not just what Nat Hentoff called "inside baseball." A free press means a free society and what happens within the press - for good or ill - effects what happens within society. …

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