One of this year’s Nieman Fellows asked me if there were things I wish I’d done differently as a Nieman. I told her that I have asked myself these questions in the last two years:
Why didn’t I make time to read some of the books I’d been dragging around with me for the last umpteen years? I didn’t have to take so many classes.
Why didn’t I go pick professors and see if I could develop relationships with them? I could have chosen the five mentioned most often in the New York Times, the five youngest, the five oldest, the five most recently tenured, the five in disciplines I’m least familiar with, the five with new books, whatever.
Why didn’t I spend some time in social pursuits, join a choir, actually go to table tennis practice, spend part of every day at the gym?
Probably because I had other things on my mind at the time.
I don’t really need a mulligan (a Niemangan?). I had a great year. I did perhaps take my Nieman academic opportunities too seriously.