Twice in his writing career Matthew LaPlante was honored with ethics awards for his work covering stories in El Salvador and Ethiopia.
Now as an Assistant Professor of Journalism at Utah State University he trains young writers to expect more of themselves.
“I’m putting them through a lot because journalism puts them through a lot and I don’t want people going into professional communications if they haven’t already been trained to withstand a lot of pressure,” says LaPlante. “My students come to me because they want to become better reporters and they want to become better writers and they want to become better professional communicators. My job is not to just to put them through the paces, my job is to put them through the wringer and that’s what I do.”
He said today in America journalists are roundly regarded as, in his words, “…the scum of the earth.”
“I don’t particularly think that’s true,” LaPlante exclaims, “but enough people do that it makes my work hard and it makes the work of the young men and women who I teach hard as well, when they go into this craft. They need to be prepared for that.
“If they’re soft skinned they are not going to make it very far in this career path.”
Science reporting is one of LaPlante’s favored types of writing and scheduled for publication in April 2019 is his new book, Superlative: The Biology of Extremes. He said it is “about what scientists are learning by studying record-setting organisms, like the world’s largest land mammal or the world’s fastest bird.”