Between the Lines: July-August 2003

August 1, 2003

 

Where do you find your story ideas?” That’s probably the most frequent question we are asked, with the possible exception of, “When’s my class note going to appear?”

Often the stories are the product of serendipity, along with sensitivity to the events of the day, on and off campus. Over the last couple of months, the war in Iraq, the spread of SARS, and the journalistic travails of The New York Times were inescapable news events. This issue’s Iraq tie-in was sparked by Susan Tifft ’73, who holds both the Patterson Chair in communications and journalism and the distinction of being one of the founding members of the magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board. Tifft drew our attention to an “embed” with a Duke connection. That was CNN’s Art Harris ’70, who, in the tradition of the war correspondent skilled at observation, reflection, and storytelling, provides a gripping tale of life under fire.

Phil Tinari ’01 is finishing off a series of stints in China that began in his undergraduate years. As a Duke Magazine intern, Tinari showed himself to be a deep and broad-ranging thinker, as well as a talented writer. With the informed perspective of someone steeped in Chinese language and culture, he has crafted an insider’s account of a nation confronting an epidemic.

Before attention was focused on Jayson Blair’s reckless journalistic ways, The Washington Post endured a parallel case. The person who did the most to illuminate that earlier episode was a Duke vice president, Bill Green. Inspired by The New Yorker’s recent treatment of the Janet Cooke matter, the “Under the Gargoyle” column centers on Green’s efforts, some twenty years ago, at journalistic self-scrutiny.

There’s been plenty of scrutiny surrounding the ACC’s expansionist ambitions. The cover story, by Jim Young ’95, ponders a question brought into high relief by the conference’s new football focus: Can Duke compete successfully in football and still be Duke?