Reporter or Writer?

Sunday, January 17, 2016
Working at a newspaper I run into a lot of people who have a lot of opinions about the writing profession. The other day someone said “We have too many writers and not enough reporters.” Hmm, I’ve been puzzling over that comment for a while now. What is the difference between a writer and a reporter?

“Writer” conjures up a more creative, artistic wordsmith while “reporter” brings to mind a simple arrangement of the facts. Many people would say writers are more talented than reporters. Writers of the creative variety are able to construct worlds, events and people with just their imagination. Even writers of the nonfiction variety…essayists, memoirists…choose where and when a story begins and ends, the point of view, the tone.

But what about reporters -- they deal just with facts, right? But facts demand just as many choices and creativity. Reporters are equally – albeit differently -- talented. They hold within them the ability to unlock an interview subject reluctant to talk (for reasons ranging from shyness to hiding something). They can look at an event, a fact and choose one of innumerable angles that will lead to the best story. They can find links between seemingly unrelated events or trends. They can notice one tiny out of place comment, action or fact and dig until they find the hidden story.

Do you think writers or reporters are more talented? Do you consider yourself a reporter or a writer – or both?


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