Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wise advice from one of my favorite reporters

In December, New York Times reporter Walt Bogdanich answered questions from readers, including a J-school professor (not me) who asked for advice for his students.

Learn to listen; write simply and clearly; be fearless when asking questions; don't take no for an answer; understand that people are not all good or all bad; be accurate; learn to use public records; and challenge the conventional wisdom.

The approach has worked well for Bogdanich. By the time I started covering health care, he already won a Pulitzer for his "chilling series of reports on faulty testing by American medical laboratories." These labs analyze tests for cancer and other diseases. So, if the lab techs make an error, you might think you have a disease when you don't -- or vice-versa.

Since then, Bogdanich has won two more for stories about dangerous railroad crossings and tainted Chinese medical products. These are stories that, literally, save lives.

So, heed his words.

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