Arts & Entertainment, Business
Lesson time 10:21 min
Bob's guiding principles push you to get outside your comfort zone, carve your own path, and leave opinion and political slant out of your reporting.
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Topics include: Get Outside Your Comfort Zone • Leave Opinion in the Op-Ed Column • Don't Take Political Sides • All Good Work Is Done in Defiance of Management
You need to get out of your comfort zone. You need to move into areas that you naturally do not understand. Because the learning curve is fast when you do that, and you are in a position as an outsider to look at what's going on differently. Move out of that zone. I have done that myself, tried to move from subject to subject, doing the CIA, the Supreme Court, presidents, the Federal Reserve, and so you have to work hard and you have to learn. And it gives you a leg up. Somebody who's been covering the State Department for decades is not going to do as well quite frankly as someone who's never been there who goes there who's a good reporter and has those feelings of anxiety and panic which are propellants to do good work. There are people who are reporters who can cover the politics and the back and forth-- and there were at the Washington Post. We're fact-based. We're trying to find out what happened and why. And if you mix-- as I think now occurs often-- the investigative reporters, the people who are focusing on facts, will go on television and give political opinions, and all kinds of people start talking about impeachment, and talk about things that-- in the news organization that needs to be separated dramatically. It's a matter of public confidence. Do they trust the media? And if they see the people writing the detailed stories reaching political judgments-- often prematurely-- they're saying, wait, wait a minute, is this a crusade? Let the editorial page-- let the opinion writers have their Crusades one way or another. I think for basic reporters on any level, whether it's in Washington, if it's the county council someplace in Idaho, if something is going wrong, if there is a hole in the system, report on that and separate the political, emotional coverage from those facts. As Carl Bernstein and I were working on the Watergate story and wrote in an article that John Mitchell-- really the closest person to Nixon-- had authorized the dispensing of all of this cash for illegal activity, including the Watergate burglary, we realized this was a big step. We're accusing the former Attorney General of the United States of being a crook. We ran this story. Karl got this shudder, this kind of very dramatic realization and turned around and said to me, you know, this president going to be impeached. And I thought and said, you're right. I think this is where it's going. But we can never use that word, impeach, impeachment, in the news room, because people will think we are on a political crusade. Karl agreed. And as best I can recall, for a year the word impeachment was not used. It didn't become an issue until the Saturday Night Massacre, when Nixon ordered the firing of the special prosecutor and there was a firestorm, and members of Congress introduced impeachment resolutions in the House of Representatives. And that began that House Judiciar...
About the Instructor
Bob Woodward was just 29 when he changed a nation. His Watergate reporting with Carl Bernstein helped expose the corruption of the Nixon presidency. Two Pulitzer Prizes and nineteen best-selling books later, the legendary journalist is teaching his first-ever online class for anyone who wants to find the truth. Learn to investigate a story, interview sources, and understand how the news is written. The next history-making story might be yours.
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