Reading Guide for In Other News

Journalism professors rejoice. We have created a reading guide for In Other News: Reporters on Reporting by Stephanie Forshee and Rosie Downey.

Please let us know if you have suggestions for questions to be added to the list.

Thanks for supporting In Other News. –Stephanie & Rosie



In Other News: Reporters on Reporting by Stephanie Forshee & Rosie Downey

Reading Guide

Chapter 1: Mara Leveritt

What tips does Mara give about how to contact someone in prison? Are there other strategies you might use?

Do you think video cameras should be allowed or required in court trials? How would that help or hinder the reporting process?

Advanced: If you were writing about someone in prison who didn’t want to talk to you, who else might you use as sources?

Ethics: How do you feel about Mara’s decision to later work with a source from her stories, Jason Baldwin, and co-author the book Dark Spell with him?


Chapter 2: Christina Bellantoni

Do you agree with Christina’s belief that a journalism degree isn’t mandatory to practice journalism? What other areas of study or college degrees would be beneficial?

Christina’s choice to cold-call the editor at The Washington Times and say she was about to get a judge thrown off the bench showed tenacity. Is this an approach you would consider?

Advanced: Would you follow your editor’s directions if they asked you to publish the home addresses of city council members? If not, what comprises would you offer?

Ethics: If you were promoted to a position in the White House Press Corps., how would you make sure your reporting was fair and balanced?


Chapter 3: Gilbert Bailon

If you were in the position of covering a potentially dangerous situation such as the Ferguson protests, would you voluntarily cover such an event despite the violent environment? Why or why not?

Do you believe the national media outlets have a West Coast bias? Do you believe the national media outlets have an East Coast bias?

Advanced: How can national news outlets do a better job of covering the entire U.S.? Which regions do you think receive the smallest amount of coverage nationally?

Ethics: How can an editor make sure they are giving a story like Ferguson the proper amount of coverage? When does it become excessive or exploitative?

Chapter 4: Carrie Lozano

How can documentarian journalists differentiate themselves from documentary filmmakers who don’t have a true journalistic approach?

Carrie mentions how her male colleagues have received more attention and job offers than she has. What do you think can be done to shift that type of imbalance?

Advanced: Would you allow dramatic recreations or creative editing in a documentary that you were making? If yes, how would you defend yourself to critics?

Ethics: Do you agree with Carrie that a source for a documentary should never be given the questions ahead of the on-camera interview? What if they will not agree to the interview otherwise?


Chapter 5: Kendall Taggart

Kendall gives her opinion about what she thinks the role of an investigative reporter is. Do you agree with her? How would you define the job of an investigative journalist?

Kendall acknowledged that she and Alex had trouble tracking down sources on Facebook. How do you imagine you would contact someone on Facebook? What would you write to them?

How do you feel about Kendall’s decision to move to BuzzFeed’s investigative team after working for an outlet like the Center for Investigative Reporting?


Chapter 6: Joan Ryan

How do you feel about Joan’s comment that she didn’t leave journalism but journalism left her? Do you think she should have pursued other traditional news outlets or do you agree with her decision to become a media consultant?

Joan mentions that all aspiring sports journalists should learn on-the-job by covering boxing. What sport(s) would you recommend for aspiring sports journalists looking to acquire the most valuable experience?

AP and other news outlets have implemented software that can report on baseball games. How would you make the case for using a reporter to cover the game instead of using a machine.

Advanced: Do you feel that the female role in sports journalism has changed over the past 20-years? Which format (print, broadcast, digital, documentary) of sports journalism offers the most opportunities for women?

Ethics: If you were Joan, how would you have maintained your relationship with USA Gymnastics? How can you make sure you are reporting the truth and ensuring future access to events and athletes?


Chapter 7: Sonari Glinton

What are the biggest differences in Sonari’s job in radio and that of a print reporter?

Sonari often uses humor in his NPR reporting, do you think that is only appropriate in specific news organizations or can it be applied to all reporting?

Do you agree that a reporter must be willing to move locations to move up in their career? Would you be willing to move every few years to advance your career?


Chapter 8: Terry McCarthy

After reading Terry’s chapter, would you consider working as a foreign war correspondent? Why or why not?

Working as a foreign war correspondent requires travel to various countries. How would you prepare yourself to communicate with people in a certain country or region, even if you are not fluent?

Advanced: As important as reporting internationally is, sometimes there comes a time when it is simply too dangerous. Which countries or regions do you consider to be too dangerous to travel to at all and how do you determine that?


Chapter 9: Geoff Edgers

Geoff told Sandra Bullock’s PR representative that he doesn’t conduct interviews via email because “you can’t get information from an email.” Do you agree with his approach? Are there times when you think you could or should accept an interview via email?

What do you think about Geoff inserting himself into his documentary Do It Again?

High school: In addition to Geoff’s full time job, he takes on a lot of side projects. What types of side projects would you take on once you become a journalist?

Ethics: Can you recall examples of entertainment journalism where you felt the reporter was too “star struck” and it interfered with their reporting? What problems does this pose ethically?


Chapter 10: Andrew LaVallee

Would you consider uprooting your life to move to somewhere like Hong Kong? Why or why not?

Andrew started out as a reporter and worked his way up to an editor role. Is that something you’d like to do in your own career or would you prefer to progress on the path of a reporter?

Andrew was hired by The Wall Street Journal six months out of J-school. What would you do to prepare if you were hired by such a large organization without having reported at a smaller organization?


Chapter 11: S. Mitra Kalita

What are your thoughts about Mitra’s choice to move around from city to city and publication to publication? She has written for some amazing news outlets. Do you think it’s worth it?

What is there to learn about Mitra’s approach to work-life balance?

Advanced: Mitra has been recognized for her efforts in increasing diversity in readership. Do you have story ideas that you would pitch if your goal was to attract more minority readers?

Ethics: Do you agree with Mitra’s choice to cover the experiences of religious minorities in New York on Sept. 11, 2001? What other minority stories could she have told?


Chapter 12: Michael J. Berens

Mike won a Pulitzer in 2012 and was a finalist twice before that. How do you think the recognition helped him to advance his career?

Most of Mike’s reporting involves a self-made database. What types of information do you think would have been in his database he created for the methadone story?

Advanced: How would you pitch a lengthy investigative story to your editor if you estimated it would take 1-2 years to complete? How would you justify the costs and time commitment?

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