Some thoughts for young journalists, aspiring journalists and grizzled journalists aspiring to sound young again. My favorite part is this:
A great article isn’t a painting, it’s a collage. The art is in the pieces you choose: in quotes, facts, events, numbers, details, and testimonials. The elements of your work will have a natural dialogue. The goal in the process of writing and arranging is to reveal that dialogue. Your personal assertions are the artificial barriers that stand in the way of organic interaction, and they’ll stick out like a sore thumb among your natural elements.
While it is important to write the news in the context of humanity (Sorkin, The Newsroom), as a journalist, one must also bear in mind the integrity of the story. And that means sticking to the facts from research, interviews and other materials one has managed to gather in preparing for a story.
The value of the story is not in the biases of the reporter, writer or in the added words of the editor, as those may sometimes be divorced from the facts collected from the ground; it is found rather in the the voice of the story which comes out from the materials of the subjects covered: e.g. farmers struggling against land grabbing, indigenous communities displaced by development, migrant workers abused by their employers, etc.
The journalist is a messenger and the message he bears is not his / hers but of those he / she covered. As some old hands would say back then when I was greenhorn: “Always remember, you are not the story, they (the persons you interview) are.”