Nosiness Isn’t Such a Bad Thing...It Can Make Great Journalists Nosiness Isn’t Such a Bad Thing...It Can Make Great Journalists

Such a Bad Thing...It Can Make Great Journalists

Journalism is a wonderful field for anyone who loves to write and likes to ask questions. You don't have to be nosy to be a journalist, but it helps.

In my career, I have covered everything from high school football games to presidential elections and have interviewed people as varied as Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and the richest man in the world, to movie star Al Pacino. Being a journalist is like having a ticket to see history being made and to meet the people who make it.

My first journalism job was as a copy boy at WCBS-TV News in New York City. I scanned the wires to keep track of news developments. I was doing this on November 22, 1963, when a bulletin appeared that would change the world. It said, "Flash-President Kennedy shot, perhaps fatally, in Dallas." That was the first news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

I went to journalism school a few years later, where I earned a master's in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley (I already had a bachelor's in English from there), and then got a job at The Minneapolis Star, a newspaper in Minnesota with some 200,000 readers. The city editor there became very nervous when the deadline for turning in stories approached. He would stand up and yell at the top of his voice, "Where is that story?!" If you wanted to keep your job, you had better get your story in on time.

It was at The Minneapolis Star that I first wrote about business. I got the assignment because no one else really wanted it. But covering business can be as exciting as sports reporting. In sports, the scoreboard tells you which teams are winning. In business, earnings reports tell you which companies are making money.

I eventually became The Star's business editor. This meant assigning stories and editing copy for a staff of six reporters. Some journalists become editors; others prefer to remain reporters. Still others, like myself, have switched back and forth between jobs.

From The Star I moved to Time magazine. Although I wrote many business stories for Time, the biggest story I worked on was about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. In 1986, an explosion ripped through a nuclear-fueled power plant at Chernobyl, in what was then the Soviet Union, and spewed poisonous radioactive particles into the atmosphere. I wrote the story from my office in New York City, using dispatches from Time correspondents around the globe.

I left Time two years ago to become managing editor of NJBIZ, a weekly business newspaper published by the same company that puts out NEXT. Here, as at The Minneapolis Star, I supervise a staff of six reporters. If writing, meeting people and gathering information is what moves you, journalism could be the field for you.