One of the best things about going to NYU is the people the school attracts. In the last two weeks I’ve attended lectures with Dan Rather, Israeli President Shimon Peres and former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castañeda. Last night a New York Times reporter came to talk to my Reporting class.
He looked to be in his late 30’s and entered the journalism world straight out of college when he began working at a small paper in North Carolina in the early 1990’s (he admitted that you can’t really do that today). He decided to be a journalist because he wanted to do something that could have a positive affect on the community while living an interesting and adventurous life. (and he has)
After a few years in North Carolina, he moved to the AP’s Miami Bureau. But he hated the AP job (too much sitting in an office), so he found a job at The Miami New Times, an alternative Village Voice type of paper.
Then love struck. He fell in love with a Colombian woman in Miami and when she went back to Colombia he went with her.
The relationship didn’t last, but he stuck around in Bogotá for six years where he wrote freelance and stringed for some big time places. He told us that the largest frustration of his career was a story he did on these mafia groups in São Paulo, Brazil for The New York Times Magazine.
The leaders of the mafia group he was covering were doing long jail sentences but, because they were so powerful, for all intents and purposes they controlled the jail. The warden was in their pocket and they decided who came in the jail and who came out.
Well, Semple worked on the story for three months, actually managed to smuggle himself inside the jail to interview these guys, and wrote a really long story; only for the magazine to kill the story when Bush launched the Iraq invasion and the editors stopped caring about Brazil.
He came back to the US in 2004 and landed at The New York Times. He reported from Baghdad from 2004 through 2007. Now he’s back in New York working for the Metro Desk, doing stories on immigration.
What’s in the News:
• Obama is leading McCain in the polls
• Diego Maradona just took charge of the Argentine national team
• Charlie Rose is partnering with Slate to put video clips online (although that’s not really news)
• The price of oil dropped to $63 a barrel