on writing – column 1


COL. 1: Just before I headed out to D.C. for the summer, three student reporters and I received an email from our future editor – Steve Crane. The four of us were spending the summer in D.C. writing for the Cronkite News D.C. Bureau and Crane sent us a document titled “The DC Bureau Rules.”

But they were wholly universal and I’m going to share them in brief.
Note: These rules are entirely paraphrased and or taken from the rules written by Steve Crane – Attribution is a necessity in journalism.

Rule 1: G.O.Y.A.K.O.D. “Get off your ass and knock on doors!” It’s all about face time.
Rule 2: Generally, stories are not found in the office
Rule 3: Being a national wire service, all our stories had to in one way or another pertain to Arizona. This rule said to, with that in mind, localize national stories and nationalize local stories.
Rule 4: There’s no excuse for lazy reporting: 10×1 is not equal to 1×10 in this business, whereas 10 calls to one source does not equal one call to 10 sources. Stick with the latter and put yourself out there.
Rule 5: a) Speed is what we need. b) You’re not a stenographer, you’re a reporter.
Rule 6: Take good notes and report actively in the field.
Rule 7: Don’t pretend you know everything. Ask questions and be flexible.
MOST IMPORTANT RULE (which I later realized – after breaking it – that this is truly most important):
Stand to the right on the metro escalators and walk on the left. If you’re standing on the left, people in Washington, D.C. will not be happy with you.


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