10 Questions With Ken Belson of the New York Times

06/26/2017

Ken Belson has been on the N.F.L. beat for the New York Times since 2013, and he has covered six Super Bowls and three Olympics.

 But the untold stories off the field that affect athletes' lives are the ones Belson seeks out the most. 

“The most meaningful stories involve retirees who are often forgotten, and who are damaged physically and sometimes mentally,” Belson said.

His N.F.L. beat goes way beyond the box score, featuring a range of issues including concussions, legal, technology and more. Last year, Belson wrote about players being preyed on by lenders, for instance.  In the off-season, Belson is able to explore other sports, but the issue of concussions is difficult to escape, even when covering synchronized swimming.

We wanted to know Belson a bit better, so we asked him 10 questions.

 

1. If you weren’t working in journalism, what would you be doing?

Probably teaching. I taught English for eight years before I became a journalist.

 

2. Who’s your favorite journalist or writer - living or dead? 

I don't have a single favorite, but I read a lot of history and I like Mark Kurlansky's books. Also, Russell Shorto. When I need a laugh, Kinky Friedman.

 

3. What could the news business use more of?

 Money, and public officials who understands what we do.

 

4. Less of?

 Talking heads, especially the ones who are bought and sold.

 

5. Name a piece of journalism that moved you most profoundly.

 Semi-recently, a piece by my buddy, Matt Richtel, in the New York Times on the death of his friend from cancer.

 

6. What makes you hopeful about the future of journalism?

Young kids who want to get into journalism for the right reasons.

 

7. What worries you?

The lack of young kids who want to get into journalism for the right reasons.

 

8. When you’re not reporting, what occupies your time?

Watching the Mets and Rangers, taking long walks with my wife, and trying to be quiet and watch the sunsets from our living room window. 

 

9. Why is being in the Guild better than not being in the Guild?

Unity is critical in a business where the bosses are trying to slash costs, take away benefits and gut morale with continuous layoffs and buyouts.

 

10. If you could give someone starting out in journalism one piece of advice what would it be?

 Read all the time and never stop asking questions. Nothing is what it seems.

Go back