Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bob Woodward Should Take a Hint from W. Mark Felt

...and create an alias for himself.

A pseudonym.

A nom de plume.

Since his legendary coverage of Watergate, virtually the "Revelations" chapter of the Bible of the press, Bob's name has popped up in so many places for so many things that it's starting to look like he shares an agent with Henry Kissinger.

Some may say he's just resting on his star-studded laurels, letting the journalism come to him. Whether you agree with that statement or not, Bob unintentionally committed a sin against one of the Ten Commandments of Journalism: never become the story. Judith Miller did it, remember how that ended?

Just today, I came across a memo from Woodward's assistant calling for his replacement:

This is not a job to expect to have for your entire career. The normal model is 'two years or one book,' whichever comes first. It is a great and perhaps unique opportunity to learn from an accomplished journalist and to contribute to in-depth reporting on the most timely topics.

These are meant as guidelines, and we offer them in part to encourage you to self-select a bit. To be blunt, we are probably NOT looking for someone 24-25 years old, two or three years out of college, looking to move on from his or her first job. Ideally, candidates should have five to eight years experience in journalism, books, or in-depth research and writing.

Bob is a great boss, but this job is intense and demanding, and it's not for everyone.

It seems even the assistant is propogating Woodward's legend in this post. So I've got a solution for the renowned writer:

Get a new name.

Sure, half the world praises your persistence and the other half sneers at your cunning, but if you really, really want to do journalism, use an alias.

It is without your name that we can truly evaluate your work. It is without your name that you will not get a certain kind of treatment. It is without your name that you can prove (and you need to) that you really are such "an accomplished journalist" that your assistant needs to be old enough to have kids, a mortgage, and have already made a name for themself in the industry.

We may be coming out of a state of denial, Bob, but I think a couple years going back to the basics wouldn't hurt.

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