Recently I read on of the best articles I’d read in a while. Part feature, part investigative it’s a Washington Post article called ‘A Marine’s Convictions’ written by reporter John Woodrow Cox. It chronicles Marine Maj Mark Thompson, who was accused of sleeping with two students while a teacher at the Naval Acadamy– an offense that could result in being barred from the service. It asks the question — Is he innocent?
Using a refined attentional to detail, visceral descriptions and the reinforcement of audio Cox told the story so eloquently and grippingly that I went and read a bulk more of his articles.
The first and second place winner in 2014 for a Society for Features Journalism’s Short Feature award and finalist for Scripps Howard’s Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest Storytelling, he is easily one of the best storytellers in the industry.
With 2,147 Twitter followers, why isn’t he more of a celebrity? Why do people opt to tweet and retweet what Anderson Cooper(7.32M followers) says and not a phenomenal writer like John Woodrow Cox?
It largely has to do with our society, how we create celebrities, and most importantly — reach.
Correspondents developed because publishers wanted to tell the news of abroad. There simply wasn’t a need for correspondents with spoken word — the people were the correspondents. With the development of the printing press and moveable type, information was able to spread vastly, feeding the appetite for news. Correspondents expanded the news and helped to deliver the news at a faster pace.
Anderson Cooper, works in the same sense. He has a farther reach and therefore, is able to spread the news and satisfy the need for news to more people. He aids in helping people to feel ‘in the loop’ because if they are watching it, more likely than not, a friend is watching it as well. Why does that matter? Because there is an intense need to be informed and ‘ready’ for discussion. A celebrity correspondent is a part of that culture of need.
If you’re able to reach the masses and ‘connect’ with them, you gain celebrity, regardless often times of talent or precision. This is a concept that Michael Steven’s addresses in his book at length.
The question is, what’s more important? The correspondent delivering the news or the news itself?