I spent much of this week working on a piece about political columnist Robert Novak, who is out with a new book. Both the book and interview with Novak were fascinating. I was particularly interested on what he had to say about today’s reporters.
“I think journalists are smarter, better educated today, but they’re so interested in getting an angle, they miss a lot of stories,” Novak told me. “I’m always stunned at how many stories just aren’t covered on the Hill. I don’t think they cover what’s happening on the floor of the House. They are all looking to be Woodward and Bernstein.” As far as the community of Web commentators goes, Mr. Novak said he wasn’t impressed. “The bloggers bloviate. They give their opinions. They don’t try to find things out.”
Novak also clued me into the secret of his success — a continued emphasis on reporting. “I’ve never been smart enough like some columnists that I can, like Bill Buckley, who I greatly admire, sit down in the morning and look at the morning papers, and write a column,” Novak reflected. “Unless you’re a genius or a great philospher, you’ve got to find out what’s happening. You have to call them up. You talk to them. You take them to lunch. That’s how you get the news.”