Everyone has a story about why they went into journalism. For Larry, it was because he wanted to "tell a story." His early impressions of the power of journalism were formed watching "NBC White Papers"—occasional documentaries aired in the 60's and 70's portraying current events and social issues. As a teen, Larry had been shooting stills, developing and printing them, and he became interested in videography while at New York University's film school.
After college, he worked on a few industrial films and then, in 1974, he was hired by NBC when WNBC expanded its newcasts and the network progressed to video shooting. His tenure at NBC gave him opportunities to move from the street to the bustling newsroom and he picked up a few prestigious Emmy Awards in 1978 and twice in 2003 for his stories. In 1994, Larry won a New York Press Club Award and thus began his affiliation with the New York metropolitan area journalism club. He served as a vice president for nine years before assuming the post as president in 2012.
Q: How did you become affiliated with the New York Press Club?
Just as I joined the TV Academy after being awarded an Emmy, I joined the Press Club after receiving an award. I felt I should, and it was a great choice. The talents and caliber of our members is humbling.
Q: As president of the Press Club, what do you want to accomplish most and in 2013?
I would like to see more members, as we are advocates for their profession. As well, I would prefer more involvement and support from the newsroom executives to help us protect their journalists from the increased government pressures and restrictions. I'm concerned that newly arrived reporters view ambivalent or even hostile treatment by some government agencies as the way it is. It wasn't, and shouldn't be, especially if the public is affected.
I also yearn for more involvement by younger members, as I'm only passing through. The club will celebrate its 65th anniversary in 2013. I'm fortunate that I'm riding on the coattails of those past presidents and a consulting director who have made it all easy.
We've moved ahead recently with scholarships. We've partnered with the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
and the Poynter Institute's NewsU
to allow our members
discounts for online professional development. The courses would look great on any résumé, and, because of a Knight Foundation grant, they're really inexpensive.
Q: Are there any special challenges you are tackling in positioning the Press Club in journalism's digital age?
We need to have more involvement with those in digital and we must offer members any professional development possible to enhance their skills to ensure their voices are heard. They have the experience and having them to adapt to any new applications will guarantee their skills and talents are not lost.
Q: What's the value proposition you give when promoting Press Club membership to younger journalists?
We have to give opportunity to grow in the profession through training, to have the chance to meet seasoned reporters, to know that we are their advocates and to have a good time.
Q: How has "citizen journalism" impacted the profession of journalism?
It's creating a golden age for journalism—look at the Arab Spring, and, recently, the Lance Armstrong story. Citizen journalists using Twitter and blogs advanced the story while the "traditional" media held back. We still need editors and "shoe leather" to fact-check. Just look at the story about the New York Stock Exchange being flooded because of Hurricane Sandy. Someone tweeted it, and CNN and the
t reported it—without checking the accuracy.
My best source of citizen journalism is nowpublic.com
. It's impressive, and I recommend it,
along with kcnn.com
(undergoing maintenance at this writing), the Knight Community News Network, which offers learning tools for citizen journalists, embracing fairness, accuracy and context. Both embrace the ethics which builds trust and credibility. It's vital to our society to have the enthusiasm which will protect us from apathy and indifference. We'll have an Ida Tarbell or Jacob Riis rise from citizen journalism. Really, it's not much different than when, as a little boy in the Bronx, Gabe Pressman
updated the World Series scores on sheets of paper in an apartment window for passersby to see.
Q: Has the job of professional news shooter been impacted by the proliferation of cell phone video cameras?
Not much of an impact. The footage may significantly add to your story, if someone else shot it and the cell phone footage advances your piece. But there is a cinematic language to being able to tell a story, which a cell phone camera cannot easily speak. That being said, since I've moved from film to tape to digital, it's still basically a box with a lens—a tool. It's how one tells the story, not the recording mechanism which does it.
Q: If you were starting your career as a news shooter today, how would you proceed?
Learn the basic cinematic language to allow you to tell the story, allow the sound and sound bites to enhance, know how to write well and simply and embrace the platforms available so you can reach as many as possible.
Q: And if today you were starting your career as a TV reporter?
The craft can be easily learned: just tell the story. Allow the subjects, the video, the audio, to work for you. Aside from writing skills, embrace history. Be wary.
Q: Any advice to young, hungry videographers?
Be able to adapt; change is the only constant in the business. Embrace any way you can tell a story. There are more jobs out there now than when I started. When I was hired at NBC in 1974, there were only three networks and a few local stations—no CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and certainly no internet access. There are more avenues to allow your audience to experience your work.
Q: What was one of the highlights of your career?
There've been many, but one I laugh about is when I slept overnight at the White House—not the Lincoln Bedroom, but a couch in the press briefing room, when Carter was leaving office and Reagan was to be sworn in. The hostages in Iran were about to be finally released, and we waited a long time—throughout the night—for that to happen.
Q: What are your daily reads?
I get the Wall Street Journal
, the New York Times
and the Daily News
delivered at home, but online, I have the Irish Times
, the Guardian
and Business Insider, which is a fabulous Web site, not strictly business-related, despite the name. Like The Week
, it aggregates.
Q: Do you own an iPad or do you prefer an old-fashioned paper? And what do you think of news moving to this digital platform?
I own an iPad, am overly attached to it, and, because I'm a print subscriber to the Times
, The Week
and TIME, download the issues as well. But I generally prefer holding paper, including books, but I have Overdrive on my iPad, so when I went on vacation recently, I had books to read. It's much easier to access news online—my Associate Press mobile app is incredible.
Q: Be honest: Which part of a newspaper do you enjoy most?
The local news ... the Wall Street Journal
started a Greater New York section at the same time the New York Times
folded its coverage into the A section.
Q: Is it true that you once brought an authentic New York City hot dog cart to a Press Club event about baseball?
Yes, but I wasn't allowed to fire it up. Nathan's lent the cart, donated the hot dogs, and we heated them in the kitchen and served them from the cart. It was a lot of fun, which we want the Press Club events to be.
Aside from his busy daily schedule and Press Club duties, the Beechhurst, Queens, resident can be found his the kitchen where he likes to cook, not bake (he refuses, in fact, as he says one can't alter recipes as one can easily do when cooking). He often uses, when in-season, fresh herbs from his garden.