Tuesday, November 13, 2007

For Thursday -- read and be ready to write

We've looked at a speech by Carl Bernstein, who covered the Watergate story for The Washington Post and is now an editor at Vanity Fair, on the state of the news business. Here's another. It's by David Leigh, an assistant editor of the Guardian in London, with special responsibility for investigative reporting. His headline sums up the tone of the speech: "Are reporters doomed?" His answer. Read it for yourself and make your own conclusion. But I'd say his answer is yes, probably.

But you can write a better head than that. Right? Make it a 1-36-4. That looks like a fun challenge. How many columns is that? How big is the type (in points)? How many lines?

Says Leigh:
I fear that these developments [various forms of online publication and blogging] will endanger the role of the reporter. Of course, there will always be a need for news bunnies who can dash in front of a camera and breathlessly describe a lorry crash, or bash out a press release in 10 minutes. There will probably be a lot more news bunnies in the future. There will probably also be hyper-local sites — postcode journalism fuelled cheaply by neighbourhood bloggers. But not proper reporters.
You probably figured out how to translate from the British yourself. But a "lorry" is a truck, and British "postcodes" are like our ZIP codes. "News bunnies" needs no translation. But "high street" might be less familiar -- it's like "Main Street" in small-town America.

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