Covering the election in J-school: What kind of writing to learn?

Stephen Baker

After a late night watching the returns, I'm reading the election coverage by the students at the new journalism school at City University of New York. (ex Jarvis) How lucky they are to have readers. When I covered the 1980 elections at J-school, I typed my story on paper, got graded, and later threw it out. Readership of one.

These students are showcasing their distinctive voices. This is something that is traditionally drilled out of young journalists, and not given back to them for a decade or two. But who knows, in the coming market, maybe these students will be able to hold onto their voices from the get-go. One example from coverage of the election in New Jersey.

"The woman throws her hands up in exasperation and waddles away, leaving Coutinho and the rest of his sentence." (I haven't been allowed to call a walk a waddle in my entire career.)

And this from an article about Rep. Charles Rangel:
"But any tempering of rhetoric may feel Faustian to the husky-voiced Harlemite—a man not known for diffidence." (Put in a literary reference like "Faustian," and the copy editors I've known will ridicule your pretensions--while making it clear that they too have read the classics.)