March 12, 2015

Terry Pratchett

The Telegraph | Bucks Free Press | The Huffington Post

Terry Pratchett, the celebrated fantasy author of the “Discworld” series, has died at the age of 66. Pratchett, a former journalist who started reporting at the age of 17 for the Bucks Free Press in England, has discussed his abandoned career in newspapers in public often over the years.

In 2006, The Bucks Free Press reported on an interview with Pratchett conducted by the BBC:

“It worried me that in the nature of journalism you had to chop the world up into little lumps of 150 words. You could never tell the whole story.

“I was never very good at the doorstep, asking How did you feel Mrs Jones when your son was knifed by the Hell’s Angels?’ because on the whole you had a pretty good idea how they felt. But we had to ask the dumb questions often when neither you or the person wanted to talk about it.”

He also discussed the benefits of journalism in a 2013 interview with The Telegraph:

Journalism makes you think fast. You have to speak to people in all walks of life. Especially local journalism. London journalism can p— in someone’s face and they can’t do anything about it. Try that in local journalism, and someone’s down to complain. Everyone should have one local journalism job in their lives, especially if they’re a nosy parker.” He talks of local journalists in the same way he does his parents, with a sense of quiet heroism. “I interviewed an elderly journalist who’d worked in a small town for a very, very long time. I asked: is it boring? And he said: over there, that’s where a couple pushed their daughter into the attic because she’d had a black baby. And over there, that’s where a man was caught in flagrante delicto with a barnyard fowl. And he’d said to the magistrates, ‘Well, it was my fowl’. Even those small moments, they make you realise the world is not as you thought.”

Pratchett wrote about beginning a life “putting words together in their proper order” for The Huffington Post in 2013:

My journalistic career unfolded with a certain routine. On Friday the newspaper came out. To some extent, this made it an easy day, although, of course there was always a court somewhere that needed the presence of a journalist. Actually they didn’t. Justice was dispensed more or less satisfactorily whether we were there or not. Nevertheless Justice has to be seen to be done, and therefore a stalwart from the Bucks Free Press had to sit there in his Jeep jacket and write it all down in impeccable Pitman’s shorthand.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
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