--Alex Altman, Q&A with Malcolm Gladwell (via Philip)Altman: If you had a single piece of advice to offer young journalists, what would it be?
Gladwell: The issue is not writing. It's what you write about. One of my favorite columnists is Jonathan Weil, who writes for Bloomberg. He broke the Enron story, and he broke it because he's one of the very few mainstream journalists in America who really knows how to read a balance sheet. That means Jonathan Weil will always have a job, and will always be read, and will always have something interesting to say. He's unique. Most accountants don't write articles, and most journalists don't know anything about accounting. Aspiring journalists should stop going to journalism programs and go to some other kind of grad school.
Every goddammed science writer I ever met with (and man oh man I met a lot of science writers in Chicago) told me to go to journalism school out of undergrad. What terrible advice! I told myself and anyone that would listen (lulz, sry Kt, Boyland, Ellis, Timothy, Martin, etc. etc. etc.) that journalism is a skill, one that I could learn at any point in my life, and that it seemed better to know something before you start to write about it. Oh, Malcolm. I always knew I liked you.