Michael Gartner, former president of NBC News, presented his 12-step program to good writing at Texas Wesleyan University Tuesday in the ballroom at the Memorial Union.
Gartner spoke to an audience of mostly journalism students as part of the William Henry Fox First Amendment series.
Gartner said that today, for you to be a good writer, you must report more thoroughly than ever and write more gracefully than ever.
“Words alone aren’t enough,” he said. “Good writing needs facts. You cannot be a good writer if you are not a good reporter.”
Gartner said good writers must cut the complex to the simple, and turn the simple into the eloquent.
“Read. Listen. Simplify. Collaborate. Trust. Experiment. Talk. Pounce. Care. And balance,” Gartner said.
Gartner warned against being lazy and careless in your writing so as not to lose the reader.
“Remember the easiest thing for a reader to do is quit reading,” Gartner said. “Berry Kilgore, president of the modern-day Wall Street Journal, told me this when I was just 21 years old,” Gartner said. “He was a genius.”
Just remember writing is an enormous challenge-and it can be enormous fun,” where’s your open quote mark? he said, as he ended the speech.
“There is simply nothing more satisfying. Nothing more fun,” than what? Gartner said.
Students responded to Gartner’s speech with laughter and applause.
More than 20 students asked questions after the speech.
Forrest Ranger, junior journalism major, said this is the kind of information you never read in textbooks.
“But it’s valuable to hear it,” Ranger said.
Eaton X Benedict, dean of the journalism school, presented Gartner with the William Henry Fox Prize after the speech.
“Gartner is a national treasure,” Benedict said. “His speech hit a nerve.”