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The Savoir-Faire of a Pulitzer Recipient
'Find something you can devote yourself to'
Byun Bo-kyung (internews)     Print Article 
Published 2008-01-27 12:33 (KST)   
The following is an edited article from the first OhmyNews English News Camp, held at our Ganghwa Island school, Jan. 12-13. Twenty-one students, aged 13-18 took part in learning the ABCs of news writing, and interviewing IHT reporter Choe Sang-hun. More articles will be published on OhmyNews International after our second camp in February.  <Editor's Note>
"We journalists have to get things done on the run constantly. It's stressful, it's challenging, but it's fun," says Choe Sang-hun, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

Mr. Choe made the inspirational statement to students of OhmyNews English News Camp, who were granted the opportunity recently to interview Mr. Choe. For an hour and a half, he talked fervently of his passion for journalism and the basics of interviewing.

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He first described effective methods of becoming a successful journalist. He suggested that aspiring columnists practice writing regularly, and analyze the structure of first-rate articles. Another piece of advice was to take interest in current events and approach everything as a potential story for a newspaper article. He also remarked on the significance of comprehensive reading; he himself subscribes to numerous newspapers, and keeps scraps of the articles he likes the most.

He also stressed the point that even the most talented of writers cannot produce a satisfying piece of writing with a first draft. From his point of view, revising countless times is an important part of the process of achieving satisfaction with a piece of writing.

The same goes for an interview. Reporters must prepare for interviews, or at the very least sketch out an outline of the questions that are to be asked. The best way to prepare is to do extensive research. It is necessary to find every article available on the subject, in order to preclude the possibility of writing about an idea that someone else has already covered.

When asked about how he felt when he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Mr. Choe smiled wistfully and replied that he knew he was going to win. Of course, that did not reduce his sense of self-accomplishment. He admits that it did not truly sink in that he had been given the award until he received calls and interviews concerning his accomplishment.

"Fame evaporates quickly, though," he acknowledged with a smile during the interview.

Throughout the lecture, Mr. Choe emphasized a single point repeatedly. "Find something you can devote yourself to, something you like so much you never get tired of it." Choe Sang-hun is a lucky man. In journalism he has found something to commit to, of which he never grows weary.

Byun Bo-kyung is a middle school girl from Suwon.
©2008 OhmyNews

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