CJR: How Vice President Rendell makes me want to be a journalist

The Columbia Journalism Review finally came to its senses and realized it can’t survive without my work. …Sorta.

On Wednesday, a personal essay of mine was featured on the CJR Web site.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell will be named Sen. Barack Obama’s vice presidential running mate, a high-ranking source in the administration told the Patriot-News.

That was my lede after being tricked into believing Rendell was Obama’s No. 2 man by a famed newsroom of top-flight state government correspondents in the Harrisburg state capital.

This isn’t the story of the Pennsylvania governor being named Obama’s running mate. This is the story of how the economy is in free fall, newspapers are on life-support, and yet they still can’t get rid of me.  Read the rest here.

Go read the story and comment there! Spread the word and show interest in the story.

Below see some portions of the story I cut.

  • Days before official indictments last July of 10 state Democratic insiders for doling out illegal bonuses, I staked out a House leader who was avoiding comment. I was sitting Indian style outside his office door when John Baer, a gray-haired columnist of Harrisburg lore whose father was a PLCA member before him, came walking by.
    He took his sunglasses off, peered down at me, looked at the office door and immediately knew what I was doing.
    “I’ve done that,” he said. He kept walking and said over his shoulder, “It’s good for you.”
  • Of course that’s silly. Everybody knows there’s nothing to save. We won’t be cutting down trees to throw tattered portions in bundles onto front stoops 20 years from now.
  • That mostly ended the day I thought I was going to break the story of chummy Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell being named Barack Obama’s vice presidential nominee.

Really my focus is that young people are drawn to journalism for the same reasons as folks were in the past, not a new concept. The numbers suggesting a huge increase in interest are there because so much more attention is on failing newspapers and the craft is seeming rarer and more valuable. My piece was part of CJR’s ongoing theme of Starting Thoughts.

In an upcoming post, read the whole story of me being pranked by the PLCA.