Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My American Idol: Journalist David Brooks

Lately, a lot of people have been telling me that the best way to sculpt your ideal life is to find someone who is living it and copy them. My "someone" is and always will be journalist David Brooks.

David Brooks is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, who has had a long, successful career in journalism. He has been a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly, a commentator on "The Newshour with Jim Lehrer," and has held various positions at The Wall Street Journal. He also authored the books Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There and On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense, both excellent accounts of how economic circumstances influence American social behaviors.

Appropriately timed (this is my blog post for the week of Valentine's Day) here are the reasons why I love David Brooks and want to be him:

1. His Writing: Some people just have a way with words. His down-to-earth, worldly voice is both journalistic and academic and his blunt, short sentences have a poetic rhythm that is not normally paired with the political and economic topics on which he writes. His ledes and conclusions leave you with chills, a skill only the best journalists can execute.

2. His Sound Judgment: In an age of "talking heads," I find David Brooks to be one of the most rational commentators of this generation. He is conservative, but frequently supports Obama and other democrats when he thinks they are acting logically, when they are well-prepared, did their research and are acting in the best interests of the American people. He is critical of everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, and holds everyone he analyzes to a higher standard, an expectation to which I think all Americans should hold their politicians and other civic leaders.

3. His Timely News Coverage with a Twist: News is very repetitive - the week of the State of the Union every newspaper, news channel, news Web site and news magazine will cover and comment on it until the story is dead. Brooks knows he has to cover timely news but he ALWAYS finds an angle that it can be looked at that none of the mediums have addressed. Today, for example, he takes the topics of unemployment and Obama's job creation plan, writes about the long term social effects of this unemployment and tight job market and comes to some conclusions you would never think of.

4. His Wide Spectrum of Wisdom: In my opinion, all journalists need to be Leonardo da Vinci-esque renaissance men (and women): they need to possess an unquenchable curiosity about every single tenant of life. Brooks clearly is well-versed in politics and economics, but in his columns he also explores psychology, athletics, food, higher education, urban life, business, science, culture, language and anything else you can think of. He does his research well.

On Tuesdays and Fridays I immediately turn the Times to the last page of the front section to read his columns. I can only hope one day someone will do the same for my writing.

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