Photos by by newcanaannewsonline.com and twitter.com
By Giovanni Ortiz
Married couple and Pulitzer Prize winners Pam Belluck, a health and science reporter at the New York Times, and Bill Dedman, an investigative reporter for Newsday, advised journalism students to be skeptical and ask questions on Tuesday, Oct. 20 in Frey Hall at Stony Brook University as part of the School of Journalism’s “My Life As…” event.
“Trust your instinct and argue with the copy editors,” said Belluck after telling a story about a paragraph in an article she wrote that was cut by the copy editors but favored by the readers.
The couple took turns speaking of their own experiences and differences as journalists. Belluck described herself as someone who would always work on multiple stories at once, unable to stick to one story for fear of losing interest. However, she described her husband as someone who takes his time and delves into a story.
“I’m like a polygamist- journalistically,” Belluck joked as she looked back at Dedman. “In my marriage, I’m not.”
Belluck, lighthearted and funny compared to her partner, made jokes about sex and previous stories that she worked on, which the audience laughed at a handful of times.
“You guys not interested in sex?” Jonathan Sanders, a professor in the School of Journalism, commented on the lack of laughter at her jokes from an audience full of college students. “Because I’m not sure if you’re interested.”
The crowd responded to him with laughter, with Belluck joining the them in agreement with Sanders.
Dedman, also talked about his experience as an investigative journalist, describing himself as a detailed reporter. He used anecdotes from his experiences, and talked about coming upon a mysterious story that he found while researching the most expensive home for sale in the Chicago area.
He found that the home had an owner, but that no one remembered ever seeing the owner.
“How can a home be vacant since 1951,” he questioned himself. He said that he met a guy while he was investigating. “He said, ‘Do you suppose she’s been dead all these years?”
Like his wife, Dedman had a slide show prepared that displayed the pictures that he based his book, “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune,” on.
He said that the stories that he wished he covered were the ones that he missed because he “did not ask why.”
Instead of a staff member or a professor of the School of Journalism interviewing Dedman and Belluck, they interviewed each other. The couple asked each other tough questions, like any good pair of journalists would.
Dedman asked how Belluck could cover emotionally tough stories and maintain the respect of the people who are part of the story, while Belluck asked him why he differentiated himself as a writer and not a reporter.
They described themselves as opposites, what one person lacks journalistically, the other has and that it is not a competition.
“If it’s one thing I admire, it’s his confidence,” Belluck said. “He is always sure his story is going to be good no matter what.”
Despite the couple getting a booming applause from the audience, there are students who did not like this “My Life As…” event.
“I like what they did, the two reporters,” Christopher Cameron, a sophomore journalism major said. “I did not like how they presented. It was sort of dull.”
While the event is a lecture, it is more of a speech from experienced journalists to give journalism students advice and guidance.
Dedman said that young journalists should try different aspects of journalism, mentioning that some journalists try reporting and find they would rather be editors, and that the reverse was true as well.