The Baquet School of Journalism

baquet1How could you not be excited about entering the world of journalism after hearing Dean Baquet’s speech and interview at the 29th Foster-Foreman Conference? Not only did he touch upon major ethical questions and dilemmas seen in journalism, but he also passionately made a case for the future of the industry. With plenty of personal experiences to back up his statements, he successfully proved his knowledge and understanding in the field, and it was a wonderful opportunity to hear him speak.

Baquet had many words of wisdom throughout his time on stage – probably enough to fill a whole notebook page – but there were a couple that really had a big impact on me. First, at one point he said, “Don’t get so caught up in your aspirations that you miss the process of becoming a journalist.” Immediately this quote stuck out to me because I always thought the best journalist is the one who IS always caught up in their work and dreams of being the best. But, Baquet made it clear that it is more important to actually progress as a journalist and learn the right way of doing things, rather than being so caught up with “making it big” that you will do whatever it takes – even if it is unethical – to do so. There ended up being a lot of talk on this matter, and it led to the discussion of whether or not to publish information if it is not completely verified. Obviously, the decision differs based on the specifics of that particular story, but in general, Dean Baquet said it best, “Your ethics are your ethics, and they don’t change.” There is a very powerful meaning behind such simple words and there is a lot of truth in them as well. If you stay true to yourself, and your morals, then you will always know what decision to make.

bigstock-Changes-Ahead-39806335-300x198 On top of just talking about journalistic values and ethics, Baquet also was able to explain why he thinks right now is “just the right time” to enter the profession. He talked about how the world of journalism is definitely changing, but because we are the younger generation and we grew up around it, we have an upper-hand on the older competition. Also, he thinks that the possibility of video and multimedia being integrated into news stories is revolutionizing and could “completely transform the art of narrative journalism.” All of this was very nice and settling to hear, and also very rare to hear coming from an adult. In my experience with older professors and writers it always seemed that they were talking about how journalism is “dying” and how no one reads anymore. So, hearing Baquet’s side of the issue was very interesting and it definitely made me more hopeful for the future of the industry.

After hearing everything that Baquet had to say, I truly feel like I grew as a journalist, and I certainly feel more motivated to get out there and start reporting!


2 thoughts on “The Baquet School of Journalism

  1. Hi Hunter — Your post makes me think of how I started my career. I was a “stringer” (paid $25 a story as a freelancer) for The Pittsburgh Press, and I thought my stories were as good or nearly as good as the full-time professionals. So my goal was to hang around until the Press hired me. Well, one day the sports editor called me into his office and said, “You need to leave here.” I was offended until he explained — he thought all journalists would benefit from starting at smaller circulation papers and moving their way up. Then I was just slightly offended 🙂

    His advice turned out to be great. (And you know, I’ve never thanked him; I should track him down and do that.) I went to a newspaper that had a smaller circulation than the Collegian, and I learned a ton. I learned about what it’s like to see the people you write about every day — in the grocery store, in the library, at the Y, in church. I learned how what I wrote affected people. It made me a more careful and more empathetic journalist. I don’t think I would have learned the same lessons at the Press.


  2. Wow, that does sound like some great advice! I might need to track down Mr. Baquet and thank him myself, now that you mention it. Starting at a smaller circulation newspaper company definitely enables you to really work on the fundamental skills of journalism, as well as gaining plenty of experience. I never used to think about writing affecting people so much until this class. All of the conversations we have had on the subject, both in class and online, have made me realize just how cautious you must be in your writing so that you do not offend anyone or put anyone’s safety at risk. I must admit, I feel pretty lucky that I am learning all of this now as opposed to later on in the real world of the industry.

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