Dave Marcus is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written for dozens of magazines and newspapers.
From college admissions tips to insights about parenting, from reviews of campus architecture to pointers on travels in war zones, he’s covered it. Here are a few samples.
College Admissions Tips
- US News – The Real Secret of Admissions
- Forbes.com – Rejection Is A Blessing
- Washington Post – Don’t Go to College! (By Smitty)
Stories About Teens
Here’s a selection of essays and op-ed pieces I wrote about kids for a bunch of publications, from the New York Times to the Deerfield Academy alumni magazine.
- 1: Students Transfer from Four-Year Colleges to Community Colleges (New York Times) >>
- 2: Remembering an Amazing Student (Denver Post) >>
- 3: Communities Helping Kids (The American Prospect) >>
Real People, Real Stories
My favorite articles are profiles of folks you’ve never heard of. I’ve stumbled onto scientists, teachers and others who are courageous, generous and innovative—or simply trying to get through life with their integrity intact. These people who don’t usually make headlines: The witness to a massacre of Brazilian street children who refuses to die, for example. Or the biologist in Colombia who set out to help re-establish the Andean condor.
- 1: The Only Living Survivor of a Massacre in Brazil Risks His Life to Testify >>
- 2: Unlikely Student Beats the Odds at Bowdoin College >>
Youth and Education
When I started in journalism in 1982, education was seen as the subject for green reporters: Do good work and you’d ascend to an Important Beat. (Do mediocre stuff and you’d churn out back-to-school stories for life.) That’s changing, as shown by the large number of gray-hairs on the beat. Why? I’d like to say that the country is obsessed by the quality and variety of education—something beyond test scores. But the truth is simpler: A generation of editors—many with children—has started noticing that schools are newsworthy.
The best education stories transcend campuses and tell us something about how we live. That’s why I liked writing about the single father from a poor neighborhood who was embraced by well-to-do students at Bowdoin College.
- 1: How Babies Learn, and Why Some Parents Go Too Far (US News cover story) >>
- 2: Therapeutic Schools on the Rise For Troubled Teens >>
Drugs & Thugs
After studying for a summer at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia, I got the foreign correspondent bug (among other, more malicious, bugs). Years later, I moved to Mexico City, and then to Bogota, to open a branch of the Dallas Morning News in South America. I wanted to write about the environment, human rights, archaeology and other topics, but unfortunately the dominant topic was drugs. It took me a while to realize that the US drug fight was a sham—chuck billions of dollars at the countries that produce cocaine and heroin and blame them. Covering drugs was the most frustrating, futile and foolhardy assignments I’ve had.
Us and Them: Diplomacy/International
There’s nothing in journalism like being a foreign correspondent—the freedom is incredible, and every year of roving is like earning a master’s degree. I was lucky enough to have a few enlightened editors who understood how to reach busy Americans. Those editors wanted to stay away from the predictable “process” stories (election and post-election coverage in Paraguay) and instead thirsted for new perspectives on places undergoing change (the saga of three generations of a family in Hong Kong, and their conflicting views of mainland China).
- 1: Madeleine Albright Tries to Show Americans How Foreign Policy Hits Home (Boston Sunday Globe Magazine) >>
- 2: The Drug Trade Destroys Everyday Life in Colombia >>
Close to Home: Personal and Meaningful
The toughest pieces to write are the personal ones. But I find they’re the most effective way to reach a young audience that doesn’t regularly read standard news stories. I got a kick out of serving as an ersatz Big Brother in Mexico City, and writing about the experience made me appreciate it. My silly essay about applying to Yale (oh, and getting rejected) brought me more responses than almost anything I’ve written in the two decades since.
Traveling in War Zones
Looking back on the stories I’ve churned out about the mystery of the Nazca lines in Peru, or the guys who made elegant (and bulletproof) leater jackets in Colombia, I’m reminded how lucky I was to see so much of the world before it was McDonaldized. Little did I know when I covered the coming of free trade to Latin America I was also covering the end of an era of isolationism, and a blurring of the differences from country to country, or town to town, much more pronounced. And much more interesting.
- 1: Colombian Fashion Designer Introduces Bulletproof Vests >>
- 2: Traveling in Places Where They Shoot More Than Scenery >>
Fun, Funky and Slightly Embarrassing
In two decades of roving the world, I’ve seen a lot, from the Indian guru who took over the town of Antelope, Oregon to the luxury condominim for nudists on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Every time I think about leaving this profession for a real grown-up’s job, I lose my nerve because I reminisce about the people I’ve met on these unusual assignments.