Last Saturday I had the honor of teaching at a public writing conference at The Washington Post. After I finished my part of the program, I spent the day listening carefully to four of the Post’s most accomplished writers and reporters: David Finkel, Bob Woodward, DeNeen L. Brown, and Ezra Klein.
I took copious notes, wrote down anything that struck me as wise or useful, and want to share with you what I learned from them. Please don’t take these as direct quotations, but as handwritten paraphrases containing the gist of their advice. Particularly notable were the shared values of craft and sense of mission and purpose in a gang of four that ranged from the 70-year-old Woodward, still cranking out books, to the young phenom Ezra Klein, who is trying to re-invent how to make policy stories interesting and relevant.
I’ll take them in the order of their presentations:
David Finkel, author of reports and books on soldiers returning from war, talking about how to report for story:
- My intent was to answer a question that needs answering for the reader: What was it like for a soldier to be there in Iraq.