in Marginalia

Randall on reporters, great and otherwise



From the introduction of the Great Reporters by David Randall, who is currently an assistant editor and a columnist at the Independent on Sunday, a UK broadsheet. Besides having worked as a journalist in four continents, Randall is also the author of The Universal Journalist, one of the best books about the practice of journalism I have ever read. (I’ve read it twice and come back to it from time to time, especially when the journalism itch needs to be scratched.)

“…reporters have to tolerate working in a far more structured environment. Gone are the days of the 1960s when Roy Thomson could arrive at The Times and find to his horror that its newsroom provided sheltered accommodation for a collection of registered eccentrics. Too many papers are run by accountants for that sort of thing to happen these days, or for the kind of staffing levels that allowed general reporters to routinely spend entire days (or in spectacular cases, whole weeks) out of the office. These days, a movie accurately depicting the work of most reporters would show him or her permanently seated at a computer in what appeared to be a call centre. The scope for seeing life close-up, for meeting people (as opposed to merely your sources), romance, drinking, nonsense, mayhem, gambling, adventure and getting into scrapes is now much reduced. How different, how very, very different, from the lives of great reporters…”


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