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Being there: David Finkel on the importance of showing up

It’s a tenet of reporting so basic that it was right there on the syllabus for “Introduction to Journalism” when I was a teaching assistant at the University of Illinois: “The most important thing a journalist can do is show up.”

In a time when technology makes it possible to gather information from great distances — for instance, using Twitter to monitor messages coming out of volatile countries or Google Street View to explore a far-off city without getting on a plane — it’s a lesson that bears repeating. Nearly every story will be better if the reporter goes to where the action is taking place.

Last week, I had the good fortune of showing up at a lecture hall at the College of Media at Illinois (where I am employed as a reporter for for a talk given by David Finkel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Washington Post, titled “Beautiful Stories: Creating a Journalism of Felt Life.”

ImageThe focus of the talk was Finkel’s 2009 book “The Good Soldiers,” a ground-level account of the 2007 troop surge in one of the most dangerous areas of Baghdad. At the time, Finkel said, there were already “great macro, big-picture journalism done on the war,” along with soldier memoirs that were beginning to be published. Continue reading



One of my goals for the new year was to set up a website to display my professional work, and — amazingly — I managed to get it done. And in January, no less!

In addition to showcasing my writing and multimedia work, I plan to use the blog on this site to provide updates on my career and share thoughts and tips about journalism.

If you want to see some things I’ve done recently, check out my clips. For a more complete overview of my experience, please take a look at my résumé. And if you want to get in touch, you can find me on Twitter.