Friday, February 10, 2012

Journalism & Society: Paul Bomberger: "You Have The Ability To Be ...

DAYS AFTER GRADUATING FROM Temple, Paul Bomberger took a job at his hometown newspaper, the Intelligencer Journal, filling in for a staffer on maternity leave. He was supposed to be at the job for about 9 months. He stayed 15 years.

"You can't beat the newspaper platform for the thrill of a big story," Bomberger said in class yesterday.

At the Intelligencer Journal, he developed a specialty covering business, which eventually landed him in the position of assistant business editor at the Palm Beach Post. He then went to the Sun-Sentinel in Ft. Lauderdale to become the deputy business editor. In 2010, he returned to Pennsylvania to be the editor of Risk & Insurance magazine, a trade publication serving a very engaged, niche audience. He left that position last month and now he's freelancing and consulting.

"I've truly enjoyed doing this," he said, speaking about his career in journalism. "You can make a good living doing this. You'll work hard but you'll be able to pay your bills. And you get a sense that you helped make a difference in your community. You're doing a public service."

His interest in journalism was born here in Philadelphia, where he spent time with his newspaper-loving grandfather. He wrote for his high school newspaper but he also participated in speech and debate groups, learning to write and speak clearly and effectively.

He went to Juniata College for two years but decided he needed to be in a more focused journalism program. So, he came to Temple. He did an internship while he was a student here, and he worked in the Daily News circulation department. He also freelanced for various publications and wrote a few stories for the Temple News.

"When I finished here, I felt like I could compete for a job," he said. "When an editor hands you a story and you can turn it in - and it needs only minimal editing before publishing, you're good to go."

He had a few suggestions for students entering journalism:

? Take advantage of your professors - beyond the classroom.
? Take a wide variety of courses and get involved in a wide variety of stuff while in college.
? Find whatever inspires you, and pursue that.
? "At the end of the day, figure out what you do best," he said. "Where do you shine?"
? The key skills you need to develop are interviewing, researching, writing, figuring out who you need to speak with to get the story, and developing a good bullsh*t detector.

Here are a few other things he said that I found interesting:

? You find stories by reading everything. Then you call people. And you visit them in person. "If you're doing a story, you want to be eyeball to eyeball with somebody," Bomberger said.
? The key to being a good interviewer is being prepared before speaking to people. Read everything. Know the terminology of the subject your covering. Know the players.
? Get anecdotes that you can use to build excitement in your stories.
? Being a good writer means having the ability to get the essential facts to people in a clear, coherent fashion that is easy and enjoyable to read.
? You need to have authority in the story. You understand everything. If you don't, you need to continue digging for information and interview more people.
? Magazines offer a lot of space to tell long, analytical stories.
? Recongnize who your audience is when you write. Trade magazines, for instance, speak to a very knowledgable readership.

"You have the ability to be whatever you want to be," Bomberger said. "Take risks. Go after it. Be accurate, balanced and maintain your integrity. Follow your principles and do not compromise."

What stood out for you?


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