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Perspective

Two Manhattan walks

    By Caitlin Kelly Millions of people visit New York City every year. Many of them go to the official places and sights, which are often really crowded and noisy, like Times Square. I treasure the quieter bits, and this week treated myself to two days’ exploration. What I still enjoy so much is …

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Rex Smith: Truth-telling needed, even if it angers

Some campaign seasons ago, a local politician came to my office to seek an editorial endorsement, which you might think to be an occasion for civil conversation with the editor. You would be wrong. This fellow seemed barely able to even look at me. Finally, some provocative question I asked prompted an explosion.

"I should've taken a swing at you the other day when I had a chance!" he said, angrily poking a finger at me. In fact, I had passed him walking on a downtown street at dusk a few days earlier. As I was admiring the autumn evening, had he been contemplating assault?

Journalists get accustomed to people being angry with us. Mostly we don't enjoy it, but we also usually don't let it get us down. Though I confess that I used to envision retiring to run an orange grove — because who doesn't like orange juice, and so maybe orange growers, too?

This is a good lesson for aspiring journalists to learn early: that your job is not to be either friend or enemy to anybody, but simply truth-teller to your community. And since truth often hurts, as the trite saying goes, your truthful portrayal of what's going on will often prompt people to lash out at you. So get over it, and get on with the work.

Surely that's what the student editors at Northwestern University's newspaper learned this month after a college Republican club invited former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to speak on the Chicago-area campus. Northwestern, it should be noted, is home to one of the nation's great journalism schools, but the Daily Northwestern operates independently, without faculty oversight.

Things got a bit heated at Sessions' talk, with student protestors pounding on doors trying to disrupt things, even breaking windows and "tussling with cops," according to the city's tabloid, the Sun-Times.

All this was quite capably covered by the...

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