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Hersh, Not Squirrels: Remnick at ASME Was "the Conscience of the Conference"

Filed under: The Catbird Seat: Friends & Guests   Tagged: , , ,

An editor friend writes:

“How many of you got into journalism because you wanted to be an editor at The New Yorker?” David Remnick asked as he began a talk entitled “The Importance of Great Reporting” at an ASME conference for about 50 junior editors earlier this week. Two hands went up. Things didn’t get much better during the Q. and A., when one of the attendees asked Remnick if he ever worried about reader exhaustion. The implication being, You know, these loooong stories about the water shortage, global warming, war war war—whew, I’m tired!

Remnick’s response: “I don’t.” (And now I’m paraphrasing.) “Because if I start worrying about cutting our 10,000-word Seymour Hersh article on Abu Ghraib down to 5,000, then it’s 3,000, and then before you know it, we’re doing feature articles on squirrels.”

He was essentially the conscience of the conference. Later on the in session, he remarked, “Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away” to ensure your journalistic credibility. He also mentioned two words, one German, one Yiddish, I believe. The translation boiled down to: The key to great reporting is “the ability to sit on your ass.”

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