What Roger Ebert Knew About Writing

"If you pay attention to the movies they will tell you what people desire and fear."
More
ebert camera.jpg

Roger Ebert has died at the age of 70, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. In his memory, we're reposting the piece below, originally published September 22, 2011.

See also: "Roger Ebert, the Enthusiast"


Roger Ebert was making 90 cents an hour when he started working at the Champaign News-Gazette in high school, and that was more than enough. "To be hired as a real writer at a real newspaper was such good fortune that I could scarcely sleep," Ebert remembered in his new memoir Life Itself. His love for writing still remains; you can sense it on each page of Life Itself, as the Pulitzer-winning film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times tells of growing up in central Illinois, struggling with alcoholism, traveling the world, hanging out with movie stars, and battling the cancer that left him without a lower jaw—unable to speak, eat, or drink ever since 2006.

The book charms and entertains, but it also teaches. Ebert's TV talk shows with Gene Siskel brought him to fame, but some of the most striking passages in Life Itself are where Ebert talks about his first craft: journalism. Below, a few of the lessons Ebert has learned from a lifetime of written words.

Life Itself is on sale now. Image credit: AP

Jump to comments
Presented by

Spencer Kornhaber is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he edits the Entertainment channel. More

Before coming to The Atlantic, he worked as an editor for AOL's Patch.com and as a staff writer at Village Voice Media's OC Weekly. He has also written for Spin, The AV Club, RollingStone.com, Field & Stream, and The Orange County Register.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Social Security: The Greatest Government Policy of All Time?

Social Security is the most effective anti-poverty program in U.S. history. So why do some people hate it?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In