Wick Communications

Three underrated skills

In Ideas, Uncategorized on May 28, 2010 at 9:25 am

Author and journalist Mark Luckie has a wonderful blog called 10,000 Words. It’s billed as the place where journalism and technology meet. You may have noticed that these days the two are getting together as often as a certain southern governor and his Argentine mistress.

This week, Luckie was writing about three underrated skills every journalist should cultivate; I couldn’t agree more with his assessment.

  • Math: Luckie says that journalists are actually discouraged from developing math skills. We aren’t required to take much of it in college. Speaking for myself, I’m afraid I’ve always treated math as an ancillary thing – the way a carpenter probably looks at the electrical box in the home he is building. He knows he has to make room for it but he just wants it out of the way and he certainly doesn’t want to know what goes on in there.

That is obviously wrongheaded. Most good news stories are built on some facet of mathematics. City budgets, sports gamers, stories from the battlefront – all of them hinge on numbers….

  • Design: Reporters traditionally eschew the final look of their words on the page. It’s as if concern over something so mundane as “art” or even column widths somehow muddies the purity of their prose. Again, that’s hogwash. Increasingly, design tips readers to the professionalism within. All of our readers are subject to an array of media; they know to categorize what they see by virtue of the way it looks. Take care with the look of the thing.
  • Interpersonal skills: As Luckie notes, reporters came to believe their pursuit of the truth was holy and therefore excused any bad behavior. I once worked with a photographer who had the bad form to smoke a cigar while on assignment in a church. He was shocked —  shocked! — when he was fired for such boorish behavior. As with all things in life, politeness and manners count — even in journalism. Nuff said.

Clay

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