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Great Advice on Reporting from One of the Best – Morton Dean

by Lauren Kalil

Editors Note: Lauren Kalil, HamletHub intern, is a junior at Sacred Heart University studying Media & Communications. Here, she sits down with Emmy Award Winning Journalist, Morton Dean to ask him a few questions about his successful career as news reporter.

Question: How did you get involved in reporting?

I started when I was a kid. The guy who lived across the street was the news director at one of the local radio stations.  He would occasionally talk about his work and what he was doing and I became interested in it.  Then, when I was in Junior High, a friend of mine convinced the radio station to put on a sports show for kids where we would answer questions and give out prizes like baseball hats and that sort of thing. I thought, this is pretty cool and I started hanging around the radio station.

Question: How do you think the field of journalism has changed since you began your career?

It has changed dramatically.  The broadcasting classes I had in college were just radio until my senior year when somebody brought in these little television cameras- we cleared out the room and had our own studio.  Now you get cable and the web – the business has changed dramatically.  The economical model of the entire news industry has changed.  There are many communities in America, good-sized communities, including here in Connecticut, that no longer have newspapers.

Question: Based on your personal experience, who was the most exciting person you have interviewed?

You know people ask me that a lot and I always say the last one.  No matter what the story was, I would always get excited about it. I just never went out on a story unprepared if I could help it.  When I was a kid and covering political campaigns and the other guys were getting the better candidates that were most likely to win, and I was given someone who was in the bottom of the pecking order who didn’t have a chance in heck of winning, I still went at it as if this were the most important politician in the world.  I think that if you are going to do well in this business, always remember to be prepared and never shrug off a story.  I would report everything as if it were the most important story in the world.

Question: Can you describe your experiences when you were reporting from Vietnam?

One of the things that I say in the lectures I do is that I’m not going to tell you what I think about the war, I just want to introduce you to some people I met during the war.  Fortunately I didn’t have to report the big picture. CBS at the time welcomed you to go out and, as one of the executive producers once said, “Tell me a good story.”  We used to go out just looking for little stories. And the big picture? They could handle that back at Washington or in New York.  The stories that really elicit the most response were the little stories that might give people an idea about the bigger picture. That’s really why smaller newspapers are the only ones that are succeeding in America now because they are local.

Question: Since you’re a Ridgefielder, what is your favorite thing about town?

I like the small town atmosphere.  I like walking around Main Street. It’s a beautiful place and places are beautiful only because they work at it.  I used to come back after traveling overseas,  especially during the past 10 years of my career, and I’d realize how fortunate we are to live in nice surroundings, where no one is firing rockets at you, at least not yet.  Your community doesn’t work unless you get involved. America is filled with opportunities.

Question: Your thoughts on being a reporter?

I think there is no greater calling than being a reporter- the many people who rely on you, and the good you can do.  I feel very fortunate that for some reason, I got into the business of reporting and lasted in it as long as I did- fifty years or so.


About Lauren Kalil

I am a junior at Sacred Heart University studying in the field of Media Studies and Communications. I currently studied abroad for five months in Namibia, Africa but am also involved in several different activities on campus here in Connecticut. I am involved in student government serving as class president, a member of our dance team that is ranked 5th in the nation, the National Resident Hall Honorary, Chi Omega sorority, and also am a class learning assistant for different Media classes held at my university. Upon graduation I hope to land a job reporting internationally on television.

Kerry Anne Ducey