In journalism, there are 5W’s (who, what, why, where, when) and 1 H (how?).
Of those, the most important is the “why.” An obituary today for a native Minnesotan journalist provides more proof.
Ben Silver died yesteday at his home in St. Louis Park. He was a TV reporter for CBS News before a career as a journalism professor. His “what” is a who’s who of historical moments.
But the “why” of his life’s chosen work is a better story…
At 17, Silver dropped out of high school to join the Army in honor of his oldest brother, Morris, who had died fighting shortly after landing at Normandy. It wasn’t until college that Silver discovered a love for reading and learning. On the GI bill, Silver earned a bachelor’s in speech from the University of Iowa. He had intended to go to law school. But while working the potato line at the university’s cafeteria, a friend who passed through regularly convinced him to pursue journalism. After graduation, Silver moved back to New York, met and married his first wife and worked for his father managing his apartment buildings. But Silver said he never wanted to be a businessman. He wanted to be a journalist, specifically on CBS
When we meet people, we often ask “what do you do?” How much more interesting would it be if we just asked “why do you do what you do?” With any luck at all, the answer will involve working the potato line at a cafeteria.