The beginning of the ending

This is a story about a good story ending--good because of the way the ending is set up at two places along the story. But it's also a story about how to get edited: how all of us reporters [...]

Who’s your paper’s most-quoted ‘expert’?

In my last job, which in part involved editing stories about race and culture, I kept seeing the same expert's name crop up--in the stories my reporters wrote, and in the ones other reporters [...]

Chunky soup

The first thing I ask myself when I write a profile is: Can I take the easy way out by finding a narrative that will take the reader start to back, that will use an event to define the person, [...]

Quotes? We don’t need your stinking quotes!

No story writes itself, but you can put yourself into position to feel that way. Here's an example of a little tale that was made easy to tell in narrative form once I made a concession. The [...]

Post-Rehab IV: What goes up? What goes down?

A few weeks before the Oscar nominations were handed out, my newspaper's film editor asked me to undertake a nakedly speculative story: Would director Roman Polanski's history of a sexual crime [...]

Post-Rehab III: It’s a story because I say so

"The news is what I say it is." --David Brinkley That is a rough approximation of what ex-network anchorman Brinkley once said in an attempt to explain that somebody has to choose what's [...]

Post-Rehab II: Keeping it real

Ever have this happen? You wind up having to write a follow-up story that could have been avoided if you'd just put one or two more grafs in the original piece. I got assigned to profile an [...]

Post-Rehab I: Whatever happened to…?

Okay, I think it's safe to say I'm out of rehab. I've remembered how to be a reporter. Now it's just a matter of getting better. I thought, at least until somebody e-mails me and says she's [...]

Rehab V: D’oh! A gimmick addiction!

I think I made the mistake of falling in love with a gimmick. Oh, she was irresistible. She sneaked up on me. And she was worth the fling. But I got greedy. I used her over and over and over, and [...]

Rehab IV: Feature writing on deadline

With little time to think, planning became the key virtue Background: So, I go to work for my paper's "Calendar" section, which covers entertainment--but, a month after I get there, they [...]