Advice from the Media | William Beecher

Advice from the Media | William Beecher

Name: William Beecher

Title: Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland, College Park. (Pulitzer Prize winning former Washington correspondent for the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal and New York Times.)

Personal Blog: WilliamBeecher

1) Describe what your typical workday was in 140 characters or less.

When covering foreign affairs from Washington, I would start the day at the State Department, seeing sources I’d set up in advance, then move to other interviews at DOD, the White House, the Hill, the CIA, or with think tank experts or foreign embassy officials.

2) What’s the best pitch you’ve ever received?

During the Kennedy Administration officials spelled out a missile gap with the Soviet Union. It was exaggerated for political purposes.

3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you?

“Go with what you’ve got.” It was advice from Prof. John Hohenberg at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. The idea was: do as much reporting and research at you could, but when it came close to deadline, you should write the story on the basis of the best information you had at that point. You could always continue reporting and add new information subsequently.

4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be?

When your client has bad news, put it out immediately. You might have a day or two of lumps, but if you allow bad news to have legs and fester, it will bite your client endlessly.

5) What’s your craziest or most interesting newsroom story?

There were so many crazy situations. One that comes to mind was when Robert Jackson (later of the LA Times) and I were young St. Louis Globe Democrat reporters who covered a fire at a candle factory like no other fire has ever been covered. We even got an estimate of how much water the fire department had used to douse the flames.

6) What sets your reporting (or page) apart from the competition?

Frankly, I was a strategic thinker who often got ahead of the news and provided my readers insights into what was coming and why.

7) Any shameless self-promotion you want to add?

I was a Pulitzer Prize winning former Washington correspondent for the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Also served short tours in government for the Defense Department and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Awarded prestigious medals from DOD and the White House for my work in government. I’m a knight in the ancient order of the Knights of St. John of Medina. Published four thrillers, Mayday Man, Submerged Rage, The Acorn Dossier, and Nuclear Revenge.