Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I Am Having Fun. Is That in the Job Description?

Just loving the teaching of my Arts Reporting and Reviewing course. Yesterday David Wiegand, the Chron's feature and reviewing czar, came and talked to the class. He was very good, both informative and entertaining and *appropriately* encouraging, suggesting that good work will find a way to the surface.

But it has to be good work, and the signage to 'Good Work. Pop. distressingly small' points uphill. He said to ask follow up questions. So this morning I did:


This is basic, but I didn't think of asking in class yesterday. I'm assuming you give your reviewers -- and feature writers, too -- a pretty specific word length. Do they usually hit it? How often do you have to send the piece back with demands for cuts? How often do you say 'the hell with it' and trim it on your own?

I'm giving my guys a minimum length but not a maximum. I'm interested in seeing if I have any of those writers who need the encouragement of writing long before I start applying the discipline of writing shorter. I want to see how much they have in the bag!! Do *you* have any writers that you give a slightly longer leash because that's the way you get the best out of them? I always wrote more than ask because I always thought I deserved more space, and some pretty butchered stories appeared as a result when the editors got tired of the game.

Michael Robertson

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