Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Miscellany - quotes and a story

Mostly about journalism.

From Paul Graham's essay on essays -
When it comes to [collecting] surprises...there may be habits of mind that will help the process along. It's good to have a habit of asking questions, especially questions beginning with Why. do you find the fruitful ones?

I find it especially useful to ask why about things that seem wrong.
Above all, make a habit of paying attention to things you're not supposed to, either because they're "inappropriate," or not important, or not what you're supposed to be working on. If you're curious about something, trust your instincts. Follow the threads that attract your attention. If there's something you're really interested in, you'll find they have an uncanny way of leading back to it anyway.

If there's one piece of advice I would give about writing essays, it would be: don't do as you're told. Don't believe what you're supposed to.

From a Nov. 2007 talk in London by the NYT's Bill Keller - -
"The curse of a journalist is that he always has more questions than answers."
This part made me smile -
"My friend Jeff Jarvis, a blogger of long-standing and professor of journalism at the City University of New York - refers to news bloggers as "citizen journalists", which has a sweet, idealistic ring to it."
Something I just learned recently - Bill Keller's father, George M. Keller, was CEO of Chevron, and even had a stint as chairman of the board, of the American Petroleum Institute. It sounds like he led an interesting life...

Returning to journalism -
"The better you do your job, often going against conventional mores, the less popular you are likely to be." - David Halberstam
There are two ways of appearing "smart." First, you can write something so complex, obscure, and abstract that no one can refute your bullshit. Second, you can write simply, clearly and directly. If you have something interesting and true to say, then the second method is better. On the other hand, if you are forced to say something boring or false, then pick the first method (and then change your life).*
Investors need to learn to look for the little lies, those minor inconsistencies that can be the first clue to bigger problems.*
"It may be true, as [I.F.]Stone said, that "all governments lie," but democracy cannot function if journalists do too." - Eric Alterman*

Had second thoughts & removed the story link - writing that captures one's zeitgeist* at time T can seem too morbid at time T+5 minutes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good job Anna. I mentioned this briefly in a blog once but I knew George Keller (Bill's father) well. I used to cover Chevron for The Chronicle and the man gave me lots of scoops, sending the P.R. people in fits. Bill is a good guy too.
-Jeff Pelline