On April 1, 2013, Journalist Rick Bragg spoke to our JN101 class. Rick Bragg is a former reporter for the New York Times, author, and current professor at the University of Alabama. The conversation was centered around a discussion of various stories from his book, “Somebody Told Me” Students posed various questions concerning stories such as his book unveiling the truth behind Jessica Lynch’s heroic moment against the United States Government and the majestic allure of a New Orleans jazz funeral for the “Chicken Man”.
Bragg discussed what it meant to be a reporter according to the rules and what it meant to be a reporter to him. Bragg’s identification as a reporter highlighted the strenuous journey of becoming a successful journalist. Bragg states, “to get what other’s can’t get or see,” is the key to being a good reporter.
A student posed the question of how does a journalist go about separating themselves from a story. Bragg suggested that many journalists will tell future journalists that to go into a story with a “clean slate.” However, Bragg continues to state that anyone with a sense of intelligence will not do that. Bragg states the most important aspect when constructing a piece under the presence of a “leaning mindset,”. The journalist should never directly say “I feel” or “I think,” but rather pull all the facts and details that can build the story to transmit the desired feelings. In addition, a journalist should be capable of putting forward their best tone and style when writing in order to successfully compose a piece.