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Check it Out!

Great Reporters on What It Takes to Tell the Story

Art Athens

Publication Year: 2004

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.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xiii

Everywhere you go you hear bad things about the news. At parties. In the office. On the street. Everyone complains about the news. It’s too graphic. It’s too superficial. It’s too boring. It’s too biased. Almost never do you hear people say, “I think they do a great job broadcasting the news.”...

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1. All I Ever Wanted to Be

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pp. 1-17

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...

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2. “It”:What Ya Gotta Have

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pp. 18-28

Every year, thousands of youngsters pick up a violin for the first time and screech out their very first notes. It’s usually part of some elementary school music program, or it’s because some older sibling or parent once played the violin. Some of these youngsters are suddenly filled with enthusiasm, practice...

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Hankering to Be Anchoring

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pp. 29-33

It is estimated that two out of three young journalism hopefuls, upon entering broadcast journalism school, want to come out the other end as anchors. And why not? They grew up seeing news anchors—both local and network—marketed and touted as TV stars. They’ve read about the multimillion-dollar deals....

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4. Tell Me a Story

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pp. 34-48

The role of journalism in society today is still being hotly debated. Do you tell the public what it needs to know, or only what it wants to know? Fact is, it doesn’t matter which side you agree with. A journalist tells a story. Nothing more; nothing less...

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5. So What’s News

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pp. 49-70

The crusty old city editor relit his well-chomped cigar and forcefully blew a blue-gray cloud of acrid smoke over his cluttered desk. He was pissed. He had sent his cub reporter to the stadium to cover the big game, which should have been over for some time now. Deadline was approaching, and...

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pp. 71-77

"When news breaks out, we break in.” I always used to chuckle when I heard that station break news promo on a local TV station. I’d get a picture in my mind of news escaping from some place or other, and of reporters trying to jimmy a door open to get to it. I heard Dan Rather say...

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7. Is That Fair?

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pp. 78-95

Journalist and publisher Joseph Pulitzer’s credo for journalists was simple: “Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.” I know some tough old newspaper editors who use that quote often, and they mean it....

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8. WIREITIS (Y-er-eye?-tis)

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pp. 96-104

Ah, the clangor and clamor of a major metropolitan newsroom. The clattering of the wire service machines. The ratcheting sound of typewriter carriages flying back and forth. The squawking of police radio monitors and two-way radios. And the phones. The constant jangle of the phones. All of...

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9. To Act or Not to Act: That Is the Debate

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pp. 105-121

My knees weakened as I pushed through the revolving door under the Art Deco marquee that shouted “NBC STUDIOS” in red neon. I was 26 years old, in the radio news business for several years, and heading for the big time. At least, I hoped I was. No, I was certain of it. It was my dream come true, an audition at NBC Radio News. As I entered the building and...

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10. How Can They ASK That?

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pp. 122-133

In the early 1940s, Edward R. Murrow brought the war in Europe to life in American homes with well-chosen words on the radio. In the mid-1960s, television brought the bloody battlegrounds of the Vietnam War into our living rooms on film and tape. It was graphic reality. Then, in the early 1990s, the coverage...

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11. Get Your News from Us

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pp. 134-149

Andy Rooney and I share an interest in woodworking. I have made a table, some kitchen cabinets, and a few doors, and I’ve even built a building or two in my day, including my well-equipped and spacious workshop. Now I don’t know about Andy, but I come from the woodworking school...

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12. It’s the Writing, Stupid!

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pp. 150-157

Well, I’ll tell you something—I think the one thing we know that nobody else knows: It is your ear more than your eye that keeps you at the television set. It’s what you hear. The picture may get you there; it’s what you hear that keeps you there. If you’re watching a space launch, they’re poor pictures...

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13. If Your Mother Tells You She Loves You, Check It Out!

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pp. 158

When I retired as an investigative reporter in 1994, colleagues marked the occasion with a terrific party at Gracie Mansion. Mayor Giuliani was there, of course, and former mayor David Dinkins. Linda Hall in New York Magazine wrote that my “peers, bosses, competitors, and...

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pp. 169-171

Art Athens died finishing this book. He labored three years on it. He was trying to beat what he could not have known would be his final deadline....


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pp. 173-188


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pp. 189-202

E-ISBN-13: 9780823247554
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823223527
Print-ISBN-10: 0823223523

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2004