Gene Roberts on His Reporting Hero: “His Secret Weapon Was to Bumble”

My own reporting hero—the New York Herald Tribune’s Homer Bigart—covered World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and almost everything else over four decades. Here’s the one I still think of when I imagine the ideal reporter. Bigart seemed capable of everything. He made you see the story, put you right on the scene. Her had awesome techniques. He could slam through the wall or pirouette around it. He made instant sources but knew how to work the records. He idolized fact and made friends with nuance. His secret weapon, though, was to bumble.

Homer Bigart would show up on a story, stuttering and asking, “Wh-wh-what’s goin’ on?”

And everyone would be helping poor old Homer.

They helped him win two Pulitzer Prizes.

—From a story, “What Makes a Great Reporter,” by Gene Roberts in the Washington Journalism Review.

(The Washington Journalism Review was started in 1977 and in 1993 was renamed American Journalism Review. In 2011 the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland took over ownership of AJR. It ceased publication in 2015.)

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