Best-selling author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell has highlighted the importance of lengthy apprenticeships for journalists.
The author of Tipping Point and former New York bureau chief for The Washington Post, told the Independent that:
“You can’t start blogging at 23 and call yourself a journalist.”
What makes him “mad ” he said, is the idea that a newspaper is merely “a monopoly protected by printing press and that the thing being called a journalist is the chance to write the news, as if there isn’t this separate set of skills that are difficult to acquire and worthy of preservation”.
Gladwell calculates that he wrote for ten thousand hours for the Post before a “moment of mastery” descended upon him.
When a gunman opened fire on a Long Island commuter train in 1993, with the first deadline almost upon him, Gladwell made it out to the scene and dictated the entire front-page story over the phone without writing down a single word.
“In my first years I wouldn’t have conceived of doing it,” he says. “I just got on the phone and called it in and didn’t think twice about it.”
Gladwell started his career at the American Spectator before being moving to the Washington Post as a science and business writer.
He was awarded staff writer of the year in 1996 for the New Yorker, before publishing his first book in 2000 – The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference.