Kass: Be a reporter first


photo by Jody Warner/Columbia Chronicle

Jody Warner/Columbia Chronicle

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, keynote speaker at this year’s convention, urged college journalists to report first, blog later. “What kind of bloggers get hired?” he asked. “The kind that report.”

A few other suggestions:

  • Talk with your notebook closed, not open as if you’re cop. (“A notebook is not a weapon,” he said.) Deal with people at a human level before breaking out a pad.
  • Notice the smaller details, something that establishes a journalist’s voice.
  • Get new information for readers (and verify all the facts). “If you get the facts wrong the first time, I wouldn’t use you again,” he said.
  • As a young journalist, don’t bother veteran journalists trying to do their jobs. Instead, keep your ears open, your mouth shut and “work your ass off” for the first five years – including weekends.
  • Don’t try to befriend sources – especially if they’re politicians. 
  • Verify facts. Is it a boulevard or a place? What was the victim’s occupation? What are the correct spellings and addresses of people who get arrested or injured?



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