A profile of a TV newsroom managing editor

While reflecting on legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee’s life and his influence on American newspapers with the news of his death on Tuesday at age 93, my mind wandered back to March 1993, a few weeks before my 20th birthday, when I wrote a profile piece on the managing editor of a TV station for a community college’s reporting class assignment. Re-reading this story now, I notice similar qualities in their approach to journalism.

Here’s that article, which provided a good learning experience as a phone interview.

A profile of Dan Nuff
By Ed Odeven
(March 10, 1993) — A local television employee feels a problem is developing in the media industry. Some people are more concerned with seeing themselves on the air, rather than reporting the news.

Dan M. Huff, 41, of Tucson is the managing editor of television station KGUN (channel 9). He has held this job for almost two years. A basic job description for Huff is “(he’s) responsible for the daily operation of the newsroom.” He oversees the work of around 35 people.

Huff graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in journalism. He also attended the University of Arizona and earned a law degree.

Growing up, Huff was interested in journalism. He gained experience in high school as the editor of the Scottsdale High School newspaper, and in college as editor of the ASU State Press.

Huff’s first full-time job came in 1977, when he became a reporter for the Tucson Citizen. He started with a salary of $18,500. Other jobs Huff has had in the past include being a reporter for the Arizona Daily Star for six or seven years, and a producer of Channel 4 noon and five o’clock news.

Currently, Huff works a Monday through Friday schedule, usually around 40 hours a week. But, he was quick to point out that in the past his jobs required all kinds of strange hours to be worked.

Huff enjoys watching Frontline and Nova and Seinfeld (“the best written comedy out there”). His favorite movie is “My Dinner With Andre,” a story about two guys sitting in a diner booth talking about life.

For those interested in journalism as a career, Huff has a few suggestions:

*Major in a journalism program that teaches you to report and write well.

*Go after the facts.

*You have to appreciate a well-written sentence.

*You have to have a liking of variety.

*You have to have a curious mind.

Huff quoting Ernest Hemingway talking about news: “A good reporter has a built-in, shockproof shit detector.”

“In your first five or six years you will develop and learn who’s telling the truth among politicians and news makers you work with,” he said.

The three network top guns (Jennings, Rather and Brokaw) are disliked by Huff because “they are pompous assholes.”

“The worst part of the job is answering the phones and talking to drunk and insane people, and still be civil and polite to them because you never know if it’s the ratings people,” he said.

“The best part of the job is giving an assignment to a reporter you know can handle it, and the reporter comes back with a story that is above and beyond what you could have expected.”

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