Yesterday, Mary Ann Zehr of Education Week pleaded for schools to provide journalists more access. And I taped an interview with Mike Petrilli to be podcast on Education Next about the state of education journalism. Now, enough navel-gazing! Time to think about Chrismukkah presents!
People laud my massively talented friend Hank Stuever for his clever pen and cleverer mind, and it is all totally merited. His work is one-of-a-kind. Everybody knows that. (He bakes well, too.) What they don’t know, and what impresses me most of all, is the sheer intensity of Hank’s reporting.
Hank’s narrative about Christmas in the exurbs, Tinsel, is getting great reviews. People love his writing and attitude. What’s less visible is how much legwork went into every detail in that book. How many experts Hank talked with, how many reports he read, how much history he pored through—no detail was too small to check out. Hank went back to Frisco, Texas, and to his subjects, again and again, far beyond what most journalists would endure. It sometimes seems like Hank writes off the top of his snarky head, but he reports the hell out of every single thing he writes about.
Make sure Tinsel winds up in the stocking of a journalist you love, or at least your own. It’s a master class in not just observing and writing but in reporting. Whether you realize it or not.