Tony Gwynn’s clutch hit with high school journalists

With the sad news of his death, a lot of people are sharing Tony Gwynn stories. So I’ll tell mine, from 1997. Gwynn was best hitter in the National League that summer (no surprise there). I was a senior editor of San Diego’s morning newspaper and had volunteered to help out at a high school journalism camp run by the California Chicano News Media Association.

From Palo Alto to Austin: The Inside Story of My Texas Two-Step

Things change. If you’re a fan of David Mamet’s writing, as I am, you understand the power of those two words. Just when we think we know our future, the phone rings, there’s a knock on the door, an inner voice grows louder — and things change.

It has happened to me a few times, most recently on January 17th. I answered the phone that Friday afternoon and recognized Tracy Dahlby’s baritone. Our initial small talk was forgettable until Tracy said, “I think we should grow old together.” Huh? What the @#*&! is he talking about? Like all of my friends, Tracy knew how happy I was teaching at Stanford University, but that didn’t stop him from making the case for why I should apply to be the next director of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.

Value of strong pitches, back-out schedules & outlines

At Stanford, we require our graduate journalism students to produce a master’s thesis project to cap the year. It’s their chance to flex the reporting, writing and multimedia muscles they’ve built up over 10 months. One of my goals is to help as many of them as possible get their thesis — or at least […]

A future M.D. with a bad case of the journalism bug

Ravali Reddy came to Stanford with every intention of majoring in biology, and she’s still enthusiastic about applying to medical schools. But I’m delighted to report that Ravali has enjoyed more than a casual dalliance with journalism the past few years, and in June 2014 she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Communication with a […]

You’re asking for trouble without a breaking news strategy

This is the original version of an article I wrote for the Poynter Institute’s website, in my role as an adjunct faculty member. The March 2013 piece, which emphasized the importance of an effective breaking news plan, was published two weeks prior to the year’s most dramatic breaking news event: the bomb attack at the […]

Stanford-NBC News fellowship unites journalism and medical students

One of my favorite things about Stanford is the diversity of students. Since arriving on The Farm, I’ve taught young women and men from China, Pakistan, South Korea, India, Brazil, Mexico, Italy and England. In addition, thanks to the Stanford-NBC News Fellowship in Media and Global Health, a medical student joins my Public Issues Reporting course and Geri […]

Before the interview came words spoken to the wind

Sometimes the best thing a journalist can do is not ask a lot of questions right away. Take some time to look and listen first. There can be gold in those moments before The Interview begins. In this podcast, journalist and Columbia University professor Dale Maharidge — longtime collaborator with my friend Michael Williamson, the one-of-a-kind Washington Post photographer — […]

Step aside, Simon Cowell — My turn as ‘Pundit’ judge

One of my former students, Dean Schaffer, asked me to be a “celebrity judge” for an opinion-writing contest he helped organize as community manager and editor in chief of Allvoices, a social news site. I have mixed feelings about citizen journalism, which I’ll save for another day, but think the world of Dean and would do […]