Arthur Kern [repdawu]
What is your specialty? What subjects do you deal with?
I have only written soft news, which I have excelled at. Human interest stories are my favorite to do. Events, people profiles, reactions, etc. are stories I am good at capturing.
I am also currently studying anthropology, so stories dealing with different cultures and lifestyle would be another specialty of mine. I am open-minded and analytical.
In which media do you presently work or have you worked?
I mainly do print journalism. I have written for two local newspapers: the Smithtown News (New York) and the Sun Chronicle (MA) as an intern. I also write for the Temple News, which is my university's newspaper.
I just started delving into radio. I have created one radio program, which was compiled interviews and narration. I also have talked on-air and given news broadcasts.
Please list a web address where where one can view an example of your work.
What is "news"?
News is the information that people need and want to know. News can inform and entertain. It is meant to be helpful, useful, and even enjoyable. It comes in all different formats now: print, radio, TV, on-line, etc. It comes from all different types of outlets: news companies, citizen journalists, etc. It needs to be factual and interesting.
To you, what is objectivity?
Objectivity does not exist. It never has and never will. Journalism is a business - we've heard that a million times. Journalists are human beings - we've only heard that a couple of times.
Being fair and balanced isn't the same thing either. There may be one side of the story that appeals more than the other.
Objectivity to me is just simply stating the facts. As a journalist, you just have to write the story. First note that it's not your story. It didn't happen to you, you don't know this person, you aren't affiliated so stay that way and just write. Let Who, What, Where, When, Why, and Mr. How be in the story. It's still your voice, just not your opinion.
What headline would you like to see printed one day in the newspaper?
Renewable Energy Source Extinguishes Burning Fossil Fuels
Which paper do you buy on Sundays? Where do you read it?
NY Times or Philadelphia Inquirer
I read it in my room, my bathroom, the park, the cafeteria, or the library.
Does freedom of expression end where the editorial line begins?
An editor has one of the toughest jobs in journalism. I have sympathy for them but not when they are fully obedient to whoever is funding the newspaper.
Freedom of expression cannot end anywhere in journalism. If one paper is censoring the truth, leaflets will spill into the streets. It might take time or it may be limited but I have faith in writers who will sacrifice for freedom.
In a less extreme case, from what I read, I believe it is not censored too much. Opinion pieces still speak loudly and controversial news still breaks through, despite its illumination.
Do you feel that analytical and investigative journalism is being lost?
I think right now they are but they were reemerge stronger than ever - that is once journalism saves itself. There isn't enough funding for extensive projects. News companies cut back on foreign bureaus and other expensive tools.
There was an article in either the AJR or CJR about the new newspaper that will be come out periodically, but with more analytical and investigative content. It almost sounds like a magazine unfortunately but not quite. I envision journalists becoming experts on what they are analyzing or investigating to create a full, professional, highly-credible piece on a deadline, therefore, beating scholarly journals that take centuries to publish.
With a camera on every mobile phone, is every citizen becoming a correspondent?
Yes and no. Editors must be highly critical of every photo they receive from citizens. The problem with citizen journalists is that it is not as reliable, professional, and trustworthy as real journalists.
Cell phone photos can be extremely useful though. From taking the video of Saddam Hussein's execution to natural disaster footage. There is even doubt over those photos though.
How would you explain the boom of the tabloid press?
Tabloids are easy. They are compact, relatively small, and informative. What more could you want from a newspaper to give you quick updates. A couple of London newspaper had to reduce there sizes from the broadsheet and people on the trains enjoy more. They don't have to elbow anyone.
The phony entertainment tabloids are ridiculous. They are so attractive yet so saturated with fallacy. People will always like gossip and sensational stories like that, which is why those types of tabloids do well.
What is your position regarding the right to privacy of famous people?
Unfortunately, celebrities carry the burden of fame and fortune. They are entitled to a degree of privacy, but not like an ordinary citizen is.
Whether a celebrity worked for her/his fame, they no longer are ordinary people. The whole country or even the whole world is watching them so their lives will need to be reported on. I don't believe in hiding in trash cans to pop out and snap photos or publishing rumors about unwanted pregnancies when they are loving and caring parents. I do believe in bombarding them with camera flashes and questions when they show up at an awards event or conference. I also believe they should understand their obligation to let their fans know about them.
What can you teach us about the art of the interview?
You must be friendly. You must make eye contact. It makes it much easier if you're good at dealing with people.
There are two main differences in the types of interviews: easy ones and difficult ones.
You can just simply contact and/or approach the interviewee for an easy one. Make the person comfortable. Smile if you need to or show concern. Have some questions prepared beforehand and a recorder handy, but don't forget to take notes. Last but not least, get the contact info for follow-up questions.
Difficult interviews are the ones when you have to interview a trauma survivor. First, you must show concern for the survivor. Be glad that the person is alive but don't be phony. Never ask, "How are you feeling?" How do you think they're feeling? (sarcasm) Note that the interviewee may be uncomfortable and want to talk to you with another person. Also note that what this person is saying may be skewed from the trauma effects. Following up with this person will be very important. Get your facts straight and be kind. There is nothing worse for a family than mistaking a dead person's name or distorting the incident.
Interviewing is great! They are much better in person than on the phone. Dress for success. Pop a tick-tack if you have bad breath. Don't ever forget that the way you look can invite your interviewee.
Please list well-known people you have interviewed.
It all depends on the what "well-known" means.
I've interviewed Temple University professor Thaddeus Mathis, who was also an activist for black rights in Philadelphia since the 60s.
I've also interviewed Marino Amoruso who is a film maker from Smithtown, NY who has won plenty of awards for his documentaries.
All of the other interviewees were either average people or administration members of my school.
Would you say the journalism blog is revolutionizing the profession?
It most certainly is. I don't believe it is a completely positive revolution though.
I know journalists are humans but when they are well-known through their blogs to be highly liberal, then broadcast on national TV about the presidential campaign, it skews the news. How are you going to use a news reporter whose blog is about Neo-Nazism to tell a story about the struggle of minorities in Philadelphia? That is an extreme case but my point is that journalists should sometimes appear unbiased. It's always good to write opinion pieces but blogs are extensive and very personal.
Will the paper press disappear?
Never! Niche and local newspaper will exist. I'm so saddened to see all of these newspaper die. I can't believe the NY Times might end their daily distribution in a matter of months!!
Newspapers are awesome. People love newspapers. People like news. They like finding out about events, ads, etc. In communities where there is a population that is not internet savvy, newspapers will survive. And for the rest of the population, they will either like them because of the newspaper culture that has developed or because they like to take hold of the news.
What are your thoughts of the free papers distributed in cities?
I love them, except for the sex ads in the back.
I love reading the Philadelphia City Paper. They always have really great articles about interesting topics. They tell of concerts, parties, restaurants, and all other types of outings. I learn so much about the city through the City Paper. It ties the city together in a special way too. They are excellent with distribution as well.
What is the book you would like to write?
I want to be a travel, international journalist for at least eight years of life (kind of a random number). I am also studying anthropology to give me better insight and skills to document people of the world. I want to compare and contrast cultures. Take video. Take photographs. I want to promote understanding in an effort to lessen misunderstandings that lead to hatred. After I have done this, I would love to compile the info and write a book about it.
Is there a motto or ethical principle that clarifies your decisions in moments of confusion?
I don't have a motto. I do have ethical principles.
I follow the Principles of Journalism.
I'm doing it for the people. The people deserve to know the truth. They should be educated in belief that they can be masters of themselves and their surroundings to perform proudly and productively in democracy.
I always try to respect everyone. If someone's parents died and they don't want to talk - I'm not going to talk with them, just yet. Patience is a virtue (maybe I do have a motto), but the worst virtue to have when your deadline is tomorrow.
I have my ethical principles but you never know how you're going to act until you are in action. I hope for the best and trust my instincts. I'm going to stutter, maybe talk to the wrong person or show up at the wrong address, but I'm going to get my story done and on-time. The story is going to be truthful and interesting.