I was sitting with Tom Huang, a deputy managing editor of Dallas Morning News and a Fellow at Poynter, when I realized I was hearing something new. Tom was telling me that I had problems in reporting not in writing. And, here I was, thinking that because English is my second language, it is the language that I am unable to master.
I had to pester Tom to be critical. He had already read my profile, an assignment for all the Alfred Friendly Fellows as part of training at Poynter. Later, I would learn that it was introduced only this year. I interviewed Omar Schwanzer, an IT expert at Poynter. His story was interesting. But I was not able to do justice to him.
As I was sipping beer at Bill Mitchell's house adjoining the bay in St. Petersburg, Florida, he told me the truth and I was glad to hear that. I would try my best to improve my reporting skills. He said it's the reporting that really matters, no matter how good a writer you are. He suggested to me several ways to hone the reporting skills.
Roy Peter Clark and Chip Scanlan were equally good. These two are also the best journalism teachers I have ever come across. I had finished the first two chapters of Roy's book (50 Writing Tools) before attending his class. I liked his idea of tools instead of rules. He also showed how one can organize the writing. His reading text with an x-ray was quite fascinating.
Chip was very engaging and at times hilarious. His idea of asking tough questions is going to be a useful for me. I came to know "My Favourite Meal" can be an interesting writing exercise and it's underlying theme can be broader and stronger than what I have thought. Thus, the mid-term seminar at the Poynter was truly an eyeopening experience.