Tom Huang

Tom Huang is Sunday & Enterprise Editor at The Dallas Morning News and Adjunct Faculty member of The Poynter Institute, where he oversees the school’s writing program. He has worked at The Dallas Morning News since 1993, first as a feature writer, then as features editor, and now as the Sunday Page One editor. During Huang’s time as features editor, the newspaper’s features coverage was named one of the nation’s best by the Missouri Lifestyle Journalism Awards and by the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors. His reporting has taken him from Bosnia and Vietnam and the Athens Olympics to the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks in New York. At Poynter, he teaches seminar sessions in ethics, diversity, writing and leadership issues, and he was co-editor of Poynter’s Best Newspaper Writing book for 2008-2009. Before moving to Dallas, he worked at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, where he covered courts, city hall, demographics and general assignments. He is president of the Society for Features Journalism Foundation and serves on the national advisory board of the Asian American Journalists Association. He is a 1988 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and engineering.


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Find your resilience: 5 tips for new editors

Dear new editor,

Not long ago, I wrote a column encouraging young journalists to keep their chins up and pursue their dreams of working in a newsroom, even though many of those newsrooms have become difficult places to work. Several readers suggested that editors – especially those just starting out – needed encouragement, too.

And so I am thinking of you. Congratulations on your new position. You must be thinking: Now what? And maybe: What did I get myself into? And also: How do I get my old job back?

Those are the very questions I asked myself during my first two years of editing. And that was at a time when the news industry wasn’t nearly as tumultuous as it is now. I can only imagine the doubts and pressures you face today.… Read more

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Resolutions Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

5 resolutions you can make to become a better journalist in 2013

Resolutions are daunting — especially New Year’s resolutions. Getting more exercise, quitting smoking, reading more books — can we stick to our resolutions past January, and will these new behaviors make us better people?

Well, maybe not in all cases, but it’s always good to have something to aspire to. When it comes to journalism, there are a few simple resolutions you can make in the first weeks of 2013 to set you on the path to becoming a better journalist.

Visit a neighborhood where English is not the predominant language.

The demographics of the United States are changing swiftly, and we are often unfamiliar with ethnic groups that are transforming our cities’ neighborhoods. We may be unfamiliar with them because, like most people, we become set in our routines; we visit the same stores, the same restaurants, the same parks, the same churches.… Read more

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6 questions journalists should be able to answer before pitching a story

I can’t believe that my former editor never threw me out of his office. That’s because, back when I was a cub reporter, I used to pitch story ideas by proclaiming that I wanted to write about “the homeless,” or “drug gangs,” or “teen mothers.”

While these were interesting and important topics, that’s all they were — topics. They didn’t have enough shape or specificity to be ideas.

Several months passed before I finally learned how important it was to do research to support a story idea. I realized I could do “pre-reporting” without getting too invested in a story. I could read previous stories and interview a few sources to have a better sense of what the story might be about.

And with that background, I could pitch my ideas in the form of a small quest: “The number of homeless families is increasing in the suburbs, and I’d like to find out why.” “Juries seem to be particularly unforgiving of drug gang members, and I’d like to see what prosecutors and defense attorneys have to say about that.” “A school has started a program for teen mothers, and I’d like to examine who’s behind it and what they hope to accomplish.”

Story pitches can come in all formats.… Read more

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Matt Lauer, Ann Curry

How race factors into the conversation about Ann Curry’s possible ouster from ‘Today’ Show

This week’s news of Ann Curry’s problems as co-host of NBC’s “Today” show makes my mind reel and my heart ache.

It makes my heart ache because, as the son of Asian immigrants, I’ve felt an instinctive pride as I’ve watched Curry’s slow and steady climb up to one of network news’ most high-profile jobs.

Finally, on morning TV, I could find someone who looked like me. I identified with her. I was inspired by her.

Now she is faltering and may even be forced out because of a decline in ratings.

No doubt, many factors lie behind the “Today” show’s drop in viewers. It now runs neck-and-neck with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” But some executives fault Curry, because the collapse has occurred in the year since she became co-host after replacing Meredith Vieira.… Read more

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How to make every word count when writing about people, places & things

If you’d like to bring your story to life in a tight space — say, 500 words or less — try traveling back in time to your 3rd or 4th grade classroom. Back then, your teacher most likely instructed you to write short pieces about a memorable person, place or thing.

He or she probably advised you to identify a theme — and then narrow the scope of your story — by selecting a character, a setting or an object that was relevant to your theme. Of course, some of these writing steps may not come in that exact order. For example, you may be drawn to a certain character as you write your first draft, only later recognizing the theme of your story because of that character.… Read more

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5 ways young journalists can stay motivated, thrive in the newsroom

Dear Young Journalist,

I’m writing this letter to you because I get the feeling you might need some encouragement right now. (Lord knows, we all need some encouragement right now, but let me focus on you for the moment.)

I’m writing to you not as a sage sitting on top of a hill, but as a fellow journalist (firmly ensconced in middle age) who is fighting alongside you in the trenches.

I’m writing to you as someone who cares about you, and who wants you to stay in the business, because you’re going to help us save this thing we call “journalism.”

I realize that this advice runs counter to conventional wisdom. Many of your colleagues are telling you to flee the newsroom while you still have a chance.… Read more

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5 ways journalists can strike a better work-life balance

One recent afternoon, I walked from my hotel through the historic Art Deco district of South Beach, following the curve of the ocean to South Pointe Park. My parents had chosen Miami as a place for a family reunion, and I was killing time before my loved ones arrived.

At the park, I saw people doing yoga. A young woman sat on top of a hill, reading a book. A gigantic cruise ship slipped through a wide channel. Gulls hung in mid-air. At the beach, a boy was spinning in the waves.

I tried to remember what it was like to be his age, and a voice inside me said: Work less, play more; work less, play more…

This is hard for us journalists, and for anyone driven by work: Finding balance in our frenetic, stressed-out lives.… Read more

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lintimberwolves

3 things journalists can learn from ‘Linsanity’

Like most sports fans (and many non-sports fans, for that matter), I’ve been caught up in Linsanity.

That’s the term fans use to describe Jeremy Lin’s stunning breakout performance as point guard for the New York Knicks.

For those who haven’t been following their social media streams, Lin emerged from the Knicks’ bench to dominate several games, including a 38-point, 7-assist performance against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Under Lin’s leadership, the Knicks are on a five-game winning streak headed into Tuesday night’s game.

What’s unusual about Lin’s story is that he is a Harvard graduate and an American of Taiwanese descent. There haven’t been that many Harvard graduates in the NBA. And, as best as I can tell, there have been only three or four Asian Americans in the league before Lin.… Read more

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The 6 things you learn as a journalism mentor

Mentoring is one of the most important things we can do as journalists. But I wonder whether we’re doing nearly enough of it.

It’s a difficult time in our newsrooms, and it’s easy to forget that our colleagues, especially the younger ones, are being asked to sink or swim.

Many of us are fighting for our own survival. So it’s hard to think of lending a helping hand, let alone a sympathetic ear. But our survival depends on our commitment to mentoring others. The act of helping others makes us stronger and wiser leaders. We learn what our strengths and weaknesses are.

And the younger journalists who are brave enough to enter our business today will help us find our way through the news industry’s tumult.… Read more

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10 tips for journalists who want to be better presenters

Congratulations! You’ve been invited to teach a session at a journalism conference.

That means your colleagues think you’ve reached a point in your career where you’ve got some wisdom to share. (Or it could also mean that no one else stepped up to volunteer to organize the session.)

Now what?

Here are 10 practical tips gleaned from several years of teaching and attending conference sessions – the good, the bad and the ugly. These tips can help those of you who are preparing newsroom training sessions, as well.

Give yourself enough time to prepare.

As journalists, we tend to wait for a fast-approaching deadline to inspire us. Unfortunately, that attitude will only lead to disastrous teaching. You’re good at what you do. But that doesn’t mean you’ve broken down what you do into steps and thought about the most effective way to teach those steps.… Read more

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