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Journalism Tips from Wall Street Journal Columnist Teri Agins

Teri Agins, author of "Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers" - peoplewhowrite

Teri Agins

Fashionista.com got some great intel from Teri Agins, author of the new book Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers, for aspiring journalists. Leveraging her 25 years reporting on the fashion business, Agins shares the stories behind some of her biggest pieces to drop some serious gems. Take note of the main points below, and check out the full piece on Fashionista:
LEARN YOUR WAY AROUND A COURTHOUSE
“…if you want to be a good journalist, you need to know how to use a courthouse, know how to read a docket sheet, know how to talk to judges and read through a lawsuit and see what you need to see.”

GO FOR A STORY THAT’S “GETTABLE”
“The first big story I did was in 1990 about this designer named Gordon Henderson, who was fighting with his financial backer, this guy named Ricky Sasaki. …I won an award for this story, because I found out his salary, I got some really inside stuff on them, and that story kind of put me on the map. It wasn’t like he was a big time designer, but it was a nice kind of inside look. So I always tell young journalists, when you’re trying to do a story, go for a story that’s doable. Yeah, it would have been nice to do that story on Karl Lagerfeld, or Oscar [de la Renta], or Calvin Klein and Barry Schwartz. But you know that story’s unbeatable.”

DON’T GET “PALS-Y WALSY” WITH YOUR SUBJECTS
“I always try to establish with a source that I am not here to sell your clothes, I am here to tell a story. …I also feel like, in the course of reporting sometimes, you’ll find something incendiary about somebody. At the Journal we had something called the no surprise rule. A subject or a source is not supposed to read a story and be surprised by it. If they wouldn’t come to the phone, we would fax them questions, if they wouldn’t take questions, we’d send them to their attorney. We would give them a chance. A lot of times, they’re going to be mad at it, and it’s just too bad.”

THE SCOOP MAY NOT BE AT THE A-LIST EVENTS
“Go to a lot of B and C events. The A events, you might not get invited anyways. But the B and C events, there might be more time to stand around and talk to people. …You want to get the story that everybody else doesn’t have. If you’re staring at the same fashion show at the same time, you’ll have the same story that everybody else has. You want to find the counterintuitive story that is going to resonate with people.”

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