Ask A Pro Archive
We have asked dozens of journalists at the top of their profession to explain what they do and how they got there. Here is a collection of our conversations with them, sorted by department.
- business editor
Inspired by his work at his high school newspaper, Shallit lucked into business and never left. Business stories shouldn't be boring, he says. Not if they're written and reported right.
Business and money affect everyone, which is why Vindu Goel enjoys his job as deputy business editor in San Jose so much: relevance.
- Bob Shallit
- business reporter
S. Mitra Kalita
Business journalism is interesting -- even in high school. Kalita gives tips on student coverage of business issues -- and tells how she does her daily job.
- S. Mitra Kalita
The creator of this popular — and edgy — comic strip talks about the strip and its creation in this video Ask a Pro.
- Aaron McGruder
- city/metro editor
As a student journalist, Garateix liked making decisions on how to produce a newspaper, from beginning to end. That's why she worked to become an editor.
After covering courts and police for several years, Lopez was offered a job as a city editor. Now she understands all the fuss: editing, mentoring, coddling, scolding and negotiating. Most of all, she juggles to make the stories the best they can be.
Despite being born legally blind, Alexander was drawn to the written word. She now leads coverage of education, religion and the obituaries at The Denver Post.
From working on the city desk of the feisty Philadelphia Daily News, Yvonne Dennis knows plenty about editing reporters and doing it gently.
- Marilyn Garateix
Alice Demetrius Stock
A love of writing has taken Stock to almost every corner of the newsroom -- and allowed her to write about what interests her. The key is to write, write, write, she says -- even if it's for free.
Columnist Ana Menendez of The Miami Herald "challenges the establishment and speaks for the poor."
Dave Lieber, a Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram columnist, says journalists must tell stories, not simply write rote articles.
A local columnist in Denver, Massaro has to come up with unique column ideas several times a week. How does he juggle it all? How does he get people to talk to him?
O. Ricardo Pimentel
A longtime reporter and editor, Pimentel now is editorial columnist in Phoenix, where he writes columns with a Latino point of view.
This columnist says journalism is the ultimate outlet for the relentlessly curious. And columns are even better.
- Alice Demetrius Stock
- copy chief
As assistant managing editor for the copy desk at The Sun, this former high school journalist's job is to make sure stories are fit for readers' eyes.
- John McIntyre
- design editor
As lead designer, she is responsible for the group's full-page, one-subject pages, including the teen pages.
Moses finds that the newsroom has the same energy as a good party -- and is just as fun to be at.
Being a leader is difficult because you succeed through helping others do their best. Paul answers questions about leadership and what an aspiring editor needs to know.
- Debra Leithauser
Hegedus, a page designer for The Philadelphia Inquirer says that being a journalist has helped him meet countless interesting people and given him a wonderful creative outlet.
- Eric Hegedus
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller answers questions about his job from some Minnesota student journalists.
Although his job is stressful, as assistant managing editor/production (aka the person who is responsible for getting the paper out) he says he's still having a blast and willing to prove himself evey day.
Newhouse won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service Journalism for his series on how alcohol affects his community. Series, he says, are much harder to write than daily stories.
- Bill Keller
- editorial cartoonist
This longtime cartoonist sees himself as a journalist who uses India ink and Strathmore drawing paper instead of words.
- Dwane Powell
- editorial page editor
Arnold Garcia considered law school for a career, but after "falling into" newspapers, he loved it. He still does.
Editorial Page Editor Jane Healy of the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel wrote a series of editorials on how the laws and policies in Florida for managing growth were a sham.
- Arnold Garcia
- editorial writer
Colligan's love of writing and of news and a need to inform others of events drove him into journalism, but his ability to form an opinion based on facts drove him to editorial page.
- Brian Colligan
- education reporter
Valle-Greene finds education reporting exciting because it touches on important issues -- children, learning, social issues, success stories and tragedies.
As a youth reporter Verzemnieks writes about reading, raves and respect for teens (or the lack of it).
Healy loves storytelling. And he decided what he wanted to cover early: education. These two skills -- and the willingness to work hard at both -- landed him a job at a prestigious metro daily in one of the biggest university towns there is.
- Ana Valle-Greene
- feature writer
Henderson is a special project editor for The Detroit News.
- Angelo Henderson
- features editor
Kim Willis, features editor for USA Today, likes that she can "really shape the way a newspaper covers its community."
Tuckwood always thought journalism was fun, and now that she is a journalist, she's in charge of the look of the paper and editor of all its "fun sections."
Working with teen-agers isn't what she thought she'd be doing when she studied journalism in college, but that's just what Wendy Zang does every week for the Voices section.
- Features Editor
- future of journalism
20 Questions A Journalist Should Ask About Poll Results
Two polling experts give 20 questions journalists should ask about polls.
For a new generation of journalists, the ongoing journalism revolution spells opportunity. Adam Westbrook, a free-lance journalist from London, explains exactly how.
Changes are forcing colleges and universities to rethink what a journalism education should look like.
Professor Ian Bogost of Georgia Tech says that journalism is hardly dying; in fact, it’s possible that it couldn’t be killed. The idea of informing and educating a public, such that they can make independent decisions, is something that is so endemic of a democracy, that we would have to take down the democracy to kill it. Instead, what’s changing is the way that we communicate with one another.”
Journalist and scholar
Journalist and scholar Dan Gillmor tells how he would run a journalism school in today's media environment.
Steve Buttry, Information Content Conductor at Gazette Communications in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, explains how to break and gather news on Twitter.
The journalism future is here and now in our classrooms
2009's National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year Paul Kandell of Palo Alto (Calif.) High School discusses journalism's future.
- 20 Questions A Journalist Should Ask About Poll Results
- graphic artist
A longtime graphic artist, Terrell says that artistic sense and journalistic accuracy can exist in harmony -- and depending on the project, one can take precedence over the other. It's a matter of balance and judgment.
- Jason Terrell
- investigative reporter
Keating uses computer databases and other electronic methods to do investigative journalism that would otherwise be impossible. And it's won him a Pulitzer.
As a projects reporter, Thomas may take weeks or months to write a story. Frequency isn't as important as the fact that her stories "move people and right wrongs," she says.
- Dan Keating
- journalism professor
Tony Rogers asks fellow journalism professors how they deal with the daily gloom and doom of the industry with the young, fresh faces they see every day.
- Tony Rogers
- managing editor
As managing editor, the whole newsroom is Graham's responsibility, from reporters to graphics to budgets. His job that the paper be accurate, well-edited and worth reading.
- Gary Graham
- news executive
Now assistant vice president/news for Knight Ridder, Monroe's rise through the company is testament to his skills -- and his commitment to newspapers. He believes they have soul.
- Bryan Monroe
- ombudsman/public editor
John X. Miller
Newspapers are changing, and one of those changes is to be more receptive to their readers. John X. Miller's role of public editor is to bring a voice to people who haven't always had one in the newsroom.
- John X. Miller
- online producer
This online worker found that working as a reporter and editor first made her a better online journalist.
Ronald Dupont Jr.
Now head of an Internet department, Dupont got interested in journalism long before he got online. If you want to be an online journalist, he says, learn to be a regular journalist first.
As an online editor for The Associated Press, the world's largest news organization, Chang often has his finger on the pulse of news as it's happening. Racing the clock and working with a team to get information online is his favorite part of the job.
- Jennifer Montgomery
- photo chief
Clyde Mueller wasn't sure he wanted to be a photographer -- he was going to be a teacher. In the years since trying it out, he has become the photo director of the paper in New Mexico's capital and a leader in his profession.
- Clyde Mueller
As a photojournalist, Craig Sailor has traveled and photographed from the jungles of Guatemala to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
A native of New Mexico, Flores-Joles followed her heart into photography and can't imagine doing anything else.
J. Conrad Williams
After buying a camera to shoot some family photos, Williams got hooked and realized what he wanted to be: a photojournalist. He walked away from his area of study to pursue his dream and hasn't regretted it.
As a photojournalist, Beale is more interested in the content of a photo and the story it tells than any technology he happened to use to get it.
Suzanne Kreiter, a photographer for The Boston Globe, says she's a modern-day cave painter -- and we need those.
- Craig Sailor
Although he loves people and news, Joe Grimm never envisioned himself hiring journalists for a living. But creative enterprises like newspapers need creative people doing the hiring and he was it.
- Joe Grimm
Elliott of The New York Times profiled a New York imam to show what it's like to be Muslim in America.
Anne Hull of The Washington Post goes where politicians don't -- into homes and, maybe, heads of those touched by the Iraq war.
Barbara Brotman of the Chicago Tribune looked at the final months of life of one man and found a universal tale.
Chivers of The New York Times often covers wars. His mission is to show it to readers, with all its implications, both noble and ugly.
Although she didn't know what she wanted to do when she graduated, Christine Evans liked researching and talking to people -- the ideal reporter.
Pippins had a different career in mind when she went to college, but once she started writing for the newspaper, she found her true passion. Now a reporter in South Carolina, she meets new people, learns new things and reaches for more -- every day.
After starting as a newsroom secretary and taking chances, Goodman got a job as a reporter. Now she's responsible for writing about everything in a town in Maine. If it happens, she covers it.
Inspired his parents to help the world and by national events to enter journalism, this reporter combined his passions into an ideal job -- environment writer.
Although not long out of school, Jeff Mays is responsible for covering three towns for a major metro daily. Anything that happens there is his responsibility. And he loves it.
Patience, curiosity and the ability to listen to America's newcomers has helped Mae Cheng succeed on the immigration beat in immigrant-rich New York.
Robyn Adams, a reporter for the Republican-American in Waterbury, Conn., worked her way up from clerk typist at the paper.
Along the way, she saw what was happening to her city -- street by street, abandoned house by abandoned house -- it was becoming blighted, full of trash and nothing was being done.
When editors asked Adams what project she would like to work on, documenting and doing something about this urban blight was the first thing she thought of.
Rosa Maria Santana
Now a reporter in Cleveland, Santana believes that hard work and reading have been key to her award-winning success.
Brant covers police and crime in a state full of quirky, interesting people who she gets to talk to every day.
- Andrea Elliott
- sports editor
Wong was an award-winning high school sports journalist before working his way up to the sports copy desk in San Diego.
- Brian Wong
- sports reporter
After realizing she had a talent with words, she found a niche as a copy editor/editor for high school sports at the Asbury Park Press in Neptune, N.J. Now they even pay her to write about her fishing trips.
Nickel covers college basketball and professional football.
This lover of sports and writing says it's harder to cover high school sports than college or pro games: you have to keep your own stats, block out distractions -- and there's no instant replay!
- Karen Wall
- writing coach
Mary Ann Hogan
Some fear the future of journalism, but writing coach Mary Ann Hogan looks forward and sees that news will always be with us.
- Mary Ann Hogan