"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, November 16, 2009

101 questions a journalist needs to answer

Have you seen all these 101 things books? Yoga, architecture, etc? Colleague Greg Scott suggested last year that we could do the same for American Government and journalism--separately, and perhaps sell them.

Great idea, except no takers financially. But it's still an intriguing idea--can you break down the basics of any topic into 101 ideas that build one on top of the other? Where would you start in reducing journalism to its basics and then rebuilding it?

Not some wordy textbook, but simple one-thought pages, usually with some kind of art on the facing page. Sure it's a gimmick, but maybe a useful gimmick. I don't know if it would help my students and other journalists or not, but it sure made me think about my craft, my career.

Where would you start? Lots of thinking, and a rudimentary table of contents.

Here was my first "chapter." More to come.

Who is a journalist?

“Bon jour,” say the French when greeting someone in the mornings: “Good day.” The Latin-derived French word is closest to the original Latin “diurnum” for “day.” In late Latin, “diurnalis” meant “journal,” a daily record. As the word migrated into late Middle English as “journal,” it meant a record for travelers of the daily stages of a trip, an itinerary of the “journey.” By the late 1500s, it evolved into any daily record and was applied to periodicals. In the late 1600s, “journalist” described a person who earned a living by writing or editing for a newspaper or periodical. In the 20th Century, it also described people working in broadcast news. All journalists provide a periodic record of events people want to, or need to, know.
--Oxford English Dictionary

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