By Kevin O'Keefe

Choosing a Niche Enables Journalist to Rise to the Top as Executive Editor of New York Times

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The decision to report on a niche enabled a young Plano, Texas newspaper reporter to rise to the top in news journalism.

As reported by the New York Times’ Michael Grynbaum,

Joseph F. Kahn’s first job out of college in 1987 was covering Plano, Texas, for The Dallas Morning News, and he was impatient at the prospect of a slow career path.

“I realized that filing on deadline and slipping the occasional felicitous phrase into a news story may not get me much farther than the city hall beat, and then only after years of hard work,” he wrote in a Harvard alumni note years later. “Suddenly a nation with a billion-plus people and a remarkably thin foreign press corps beckoned.”

That nation was China, whose potential as the next great story had been impressed on Mr. Kahn by one of his professors. At the time, ambitious young reporters flocked to high-profile bureaus like Moscow and Jerusalem; Mr. Kahn reasoned that China, not the pivotal power it is today, gave him a better chance to stand out.

This morning, Joe Kahn was named executive editor of The New York Times, as Grynbaum reports,

“…[T]he culmination of a steady journalistic rise that began with his decision to move overseas. In China, he collected two Pulitzer Prizes, met the woman who would become his wife and spearheaded exposés of excess and corruption, the consequences of which are still being felt.”

Reading Kahn’s story I couldn’t help but think of the need for blogging lawyers to choose a niche if they wanted to stand out from other lawyers, build a name for themselves and grow their business.

In particular I thought of Seattle Attorney, Dan Harris, and his China Law Blog, now it’s seventeenth year.

Like Kahn, Harris chose China. As a result, Harris and his law firm have built an international reputation on the back of the blog – and a lot of hard work.

If Harris had chosen international law as the subject of his blog, as most firms do when they broach international law, he’d have no where near the reputation nor the growing law firm he leads.

For lawyers who are already blogging and lawyers getting ready to blog, follow the path of Kahn – and Harris – choose a niche.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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