Last night SPJ hosted Mark Somerson, an assistant city editor as well as science, environment and medical editor for the Columbus Dispatch. Thanks to all of you who came, but if you couldn’t make it here’s what you missed:
Mark was an editor at the Lantern and said he loved working for the paper. Starting off as a business major, Mark learned about writing for the paper from a co-worker at Lazarus.
“I loved writing but I didn’t realize you could do that for a living,” he said.
He brought copies of stories he had written for the Lantern, including his first from April 29, 1986 about the downfall of the record. While at OSU, he said he “didn’t respect his professors as much as he should have,” but instead focused on writing for the Lantern.
After graduation he applied to over 100 papers, but not the Columbus Dispatch. Eventually he started at the News Herald in Mentor,Oh. before moving onto the Columbus Dispatch.
As a science and medical reporter he has been able to be up close and involved in surgeries. He’s held someone’s heart and touched someone’s brain. He also worked at a Santa Claus in City Center mall for an hour and married a couple as an ordained minister. He said these experiences helped him be more descriptive in his stories and really paint a picture for readers.
He said a good reporter leaves their desk and does as many interviews as possible in person, come up with your own story ideas, get an internship, and learn how to write for the web.
He also advised students, “You only get better with writing the more you do.”
His tips for interviewing included: look the interviewer in the eye, be passionate about what you do, don’t say “like” or “um”, and say “I don’t know” if you really don’t know.
Thanks again to Mark for coming and speaking to us. We hope to see you at the next meeting on September 27th.