Saturday, November 21, 2009

Your Inner Rat

'The only qualities essential for real success in journalism are ratlike cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability.'
--Harold Evans, quoting a colleague in his new memoir, My Paper Chase. We heartily encourage you to share your own war stories about how you employed ratlike cunning in support of your larger goals, vocational or otherwise.


At 3:52 PM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

Maybe Weasal, or Ferret. Not Rat, for me, anyway. And not Mouse. All of those have good characteristics, of course.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Select your favorite rodent, by all means.

At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Jane Levesque said...

I once tracked down a school superintendent (by phone) on a golf course when I needed to talk to him about a story. Does that qualify?

At 9:14 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Cunning, perhaps, but hardly ratlike. He probably welcomed your call, doubly so if he was having a bad day on the course.

I once bluffed my way past a high end real estate agent who would only show then-Browns owner Art Modell's mansion in exclusive Waite Hill to qualified buyers. It was near the height of the uproar following Modell's decision to move the team to Baltimore, and he was the most hated man in town at the time. I tried not to lie, but certainly did leave the misleading impression that I was an agent of a wealthy potential buyer, and got a tour of the mansion, with some juicy tidbits about how the family used the house. When the alternative weekly paper The Free Times published the resulting story, it prompted the embarrassed agent to castigate me in a subsequent Plain Dealer story as a sleazy reporter. I'm guessing that's the kind of thing he's talking about in that quote.

As the editor Michael Keaton famously said in the movie The Paper, "a clipboard and a confident nod will get you in just about any door." Not always true, but I love the line anyway.

At 10:53 PM, Anonymous Jane Levesque said...

That is a great line!

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Maria said...

Do packrats count?

At 11:00 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Nearly every writer I've ever known is at least a modest packrat, Maria. Just tends to come with the territory.


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