UT’s R. B. Brenner shares six characteristics of a great journalist

The Headliners Foundation 2014 Mike Quinn Awards lunch was held on Saturday, September 13, 2014.

A panel discussion, Investigative Reporting: How to Report the High-Impact Storywas followed by the Awards luncheon where the the 2013 Showcase Award for Enterprise and Innovation winnersCharles E. Green Award winners and 2014/2015 scholarship recipients were recognized.

R.B. Brenner Director (pictured above), UT School of Journalism at Austin Moody College and former editor at The Washington Post, was the luncheon featured speaker. At The Washington Post, Brenner held several jobs, including Maryland editor, metropolitan editor, Sunday editor and deputy universal news editor. He was one of the primary editors of the newspaper’s coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings, awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2008.

Mindful of the current climate in which stories are crafted, Brenner reminded the audience that in a sense we are “all publishers.” Confronted with an audience of journalists, students, Foundation Governors and media lovers, Brenner decided to address his comments directly to journalism students.

While there is no substitute for “shoe leather” Brenner shared six characteristics of a great journalist:

  • Develop curiousity, the eternal ingredient.

  • Be a voracious reader and student of your craft.

  • Work hard. Enhance your work ethic.

  • Be tech nimble. Know the tools of your trade.

  • Be numerate so statistics data and math are easily understood.

  • Be responsive to your audience. Know where they are coming from – the what when and how they are reading stories.

Develop these traits, Brenner advised the student journalists, and you will be on the “pathway to depth.”

Also, see Brenner’s views about today’s climate of journalism in his Headliners Foundation blog.

Story by Jane Greig. Jane Greig is Secretary of the Headliners Foundation of Texas. As a lifestyle columnist for four years and the consumer columnist (a k a “answer lady”) at the Austin American-Statesman for more than 14 years, Greig honed her journalist skills and won a Dallas Press Club Katie Award for Specialty Features.

To view photos from the event, click here.

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