Listening to Bob Wood Woodward again was really exciting. During his convocation speech at Elon last month, he was sporadic and didn’t really get to his specific point until the end. His speech consisted of many anecdotes from he illustrious career. Bt at his keynote speech at the ACP conference, he was succinct and touch on points that were extremely relevant to aspiring journalists. Of course he talked about Watergate and his ordeals with the Nixon presidency, but the main essence of his speech was advice. He listed seven points that outlined his thoughts on what journalists should do. Two of them that stood out to me were “you have to show up,” and “don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” Showing up means that you have to be active in the community and be present. If you are active, people will take notice and you will also be more knowledgeable about the things you are reporting on. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes is self-explanatory, but one thing he also said in this point was to not be afraid to leave information out. When Woodward was writing “All the President’s Men,” he always fumbled around what to put in the book. If stories are complex enough, you’ll never be able to tell the full story, so it has to be the journalists’ job to shift through information and figure out what’s most important. All of the seven points are below.
- You’ve got to show u p
- Find something to do an in depth research project of some kind
- Check your sources and find second ones if needed
- Don’t succumb to authority, need a little spirit of defiance
- Read your stores out loud
- Find alternative ways to get people to talk. Talk yourself seriously and your source will as well. Show interest and they generally will respond.
- Don’t be afraid of mistakes. You won’t be able to tell the full story, but tell as much as you can