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News Link • Vin Suprynowicz's Columns Archive

The deadline shifts right before their eyes -- just what the Chinese want...

•, Vin Suprynowicz

I was a daily and weekly newspaper reporter for some years, in my younger days, and then an editor of daily and weekly newspapers for more than three decades, often assigning and directing reporters.

My job was to edit their work, which should involve a lot more than just fixing spelling and grammar. A good editor tries to instruct reporters on how to spot and follow up the important points in a developing story, rather than being led around by the nose by slick "public relations" types who want them to report only the happy-talk that the politicians or corporate big-wigs hope to see in the paper.

Yes, going in with a few prepared questions in advance makes sense. But insisting on sticking with your scripted list to the point where you miss the clues of something significant happening right in front of your eyes — something that ought to trigger alarm bells — can be the difference between finding the real story for your readers, or missing it entirely.

As in so many things, it's more important to LISTEN, to engage in actual DIALOGUE, to say, "But wait, that would mean . . ." than to cut off what the other person is saying because you want to rush through your list, to show off how many clever, nasty questions you thought up.

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