Daily Princetonian writer Loully Saney took advantage of this week’s visit to campus by Pulitzer Prize-winning International New York Times editorial page editor Serge Schmemann (pictured) to ask the esteemed journalist some solid questions.
Alumni of Princeton and Harvard will definitely want to read the interviewee’s take on the differences between those two universities. When Saney asked which journalist Schmemann admires most, he got this wonderful bygone-era answer:
“Well, I had a lot of models, actually. Okay, I’ll say John Darnton. We were in Africa together — he was Times, I was AP. We spent some time together, then he went to Poland. I think he was one of the cleanest writers I have ever met.”
“He was a master of finding the telling detail that brought a story to life. In fact, his brother was a professor of French history here, Robert Darnton… He was a big model for me. And there were many more, but you said one. And when I have taught journalism, I have always used some of his greatest articles. He had one when he went into Uganda and his lede was, ‘When a country collapses, there is money to be made.’ That’s the kind of thing that I think is masterful.”
Those were the days… When print newspapers had foreign correspondent budgets and the assignment landscape did not include items like “The 23 Strangest Things About Idi Amin.”
P.S. Schmemann’s November 19 talk was sponsored by the American Whig Cliosophic Society. The organization is the oldest collegiate political, literary and debating union in the U.S., founded in 1765.
[Image courtesy: New York Times]
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