Archive for November, 2009

Was it really a week ago already?

November 24, 2009

I couldn’t sleep at all the night before, the day itself was a blur. I needed to somehow document what November 17 was like for me as an official interviewer for Ira Glass. This is the video diary more or less.


I. Sat. Down. And. Talked. With. Ira. Glass.

November 17, 2009


Tomorrow, Syracuse welcomes Ira Glass!

November 16, 2009

Some of the welcoming signs he can expect in CNY tomorrow:

via the Syracuse University homepage

via Syracuse University Food Services

via me (if they shipped overnight, instead it’s just a dream on

via Al’s Wine & Whiskey Bar (in Downtown Syracuse)

via the official university flier all over campus

via a Twitter search of “Ira Glass” near and around “Syracuse, N.Y.”

via me, and there’s a lot more where that comes from today. Follow @NathanMattise or search #IraGlass

The Next Four Weeks: What question(s) should make the cut?

November 11, 2009

Ira comes in less than a week! Time to narrow down the Q’s for my ten minutes with him (well, and then the hour long convo I get to sit in on plus the Q&A during his speech at night…)

Question No. 18

Question No. 19

Question No. 22

Question No. 27

Question No. 30

The best questions of the first four weeks

Question No. 30: “How the heck did you do that?”

November 10, 2009

Ira Question Written by Nathan Mattise

Today I got rejected from the Carnegie-Knight foundation’s News21 journalism initiative.

The application-to-interview-to-result timeframe was so fast I haven’t really had time to process it. I know I was up against some heavy competition – folks who have been doing videography/design/ flash  for years, people with professional experience at high profile outlets, students with awards in all the high profile student competitions.

I like to think my materials are strong, I interview well and I display a willingness to  learn the skills and techniques I haven’t mastered. There are plenty of other young journalists like me that for one reason or another just haven’t had opportunities like News21 to devote ourselves to a meaningful project with the opportunity to really expand our skillsets. It’s a Catch-22 however. Without the skills/experience to begin with, you can’t participate in opportunities to gain skills/experience.

That’s where Ira Glass becomes a bit of a role model. Somehow, some way he took his non-journalism degree, interned at NPR in Washington and eventually worked his way through, “nearly every NPR network news program” and “held virtually every production job.”

So, Ira, it’s too cliche to ask for advice, but…

Is it possible to have a professional rise like yours in today’s professional media culture? Can you grab an opportunity to showcase your abilities without previous indicators and then somehow work your way to the top echelon of an outlet?


E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 29: “Do you have the time?”

November 9, 2009

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

With the big lecture just over a week away,  I managed to get a few of my classes to agree to hold TAL TV showings.

We opted to watch the “Escape” episode because it’s so rich and offers a journalism class tons of topics to draw on (visuals, interviewing, narration, angles, staging shots… the list goes on).

The one question that came out of it that no one seemed to have a pulse on was about time however. Clearly a story like the Mike Phillips piece in “Escape” requires tons of time to research beforehand, conduct multiple interviews to develop that frank rapport, and then clean-up time for follow-up interviews or additional shoots if you need visuals to match some great audio.

I know time is a limited resource, but when you’re only filming six episodes a season…

On average, how much time does it take to produce a great story? What is the time breakdown between preparation, actual filming and reporting, then tying all the loose ends (refilming, follow-ups, etc.) in post-production? How does the TV preparation compare to doing the same for a radio episode?

Links: n/a

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 28: “And the morale of the story is?”

November 5, 2009

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

I know journalism always preaches unbiased reporting, but TAL isn’t pure journalism…. it’s pure storytelling.

Stories have morals. Habeas Schmabeas teaches us about how even prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are human beings deserving of fairness.  81 Words sheds light on the beginning of society’s push to truly understand homosexuality.  Hell, there are even episodes that go directly at morality and decision making in the human brain.

It has to be impossible to tell all these stories and not have something to draw from, right?

What is the best moral you can take away from a story you’ve produced on TAL? How much of an impact has what you’ve seen, heard and interacted with made on your life outlook?

Links: This American Life

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 27: “You accept submissions, right?”

November 4, 2009

Ira Question Written by Nathan Mattise

Today I attended a conversation with former Playboy CEO Christie Hefner. Given the territory, she had tons of provocative and profound things to say. One in particular really peaked my interest however.

A student asked if it’s tough to attract young journalists to Playboy because of the potential trouble it could cause on a resume down the road. Hefner retorted that actually the opposite is true, Playboy doesn’t have enough room for all the writers that want to be published within and the list of writers who have contributed (including publishing the original excerpts of Fahrenheit 451 and All The President’s Men) has made it a badge of honor. She finished the thought by noting that, especially for storytellers looking to have non-traditional journalism pieces published, Playboy is actually one of the very few places that features short-form fiction (evidenced by their yearly contest for unknown writers).

Seems like it’s a rough market for young storytellers…

What advice do you have for young storytellers looking to share their work in the digital age? Given the fact that many of the known outlets are very difficult to get published through (books, select literary magazines, public radio reading opportunities, etc.) would you recommend starting off self-publishing for free or cheap online (and hoping that the merit of your work can lead to more wide-reaching, established means)?

Links: The Newshouse | Playboy Online

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 26: “What’s the web site again?”

November 3, 2009

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

We talked about innovating new ways of communicating a story in my web journalism class tonight. We’ve worked with slideshows, audio interviews, video sequencing and, of course, text already.  Our professors showed us some free web tools to try some things ( for instance) but my mind immediately went to the work of Jonathan Harris.  He’s someone a new media prof. of mine turned me on to and I immediately began questioning how viable my future in online storytelling was.

The thought that next came to mind was the TAL web site. Ira Glass and co. were adventurous enough to take storytelling to the video medium for two successful seasons of TAL TV. Radio has held strong for them and translated fine to podcasting…

…so the  next logical step…

Why not support your storytelling through innovative online multimedia (or even do uniquely online pieces)? Do you have plans for the TAL web site beyond just storing and organizing your radio stories?

Links: | In Pursuit of the Trivial

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 25: “Is this censored?”

November 2, 2009

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

It’s an easy out to ask an interview questions about the local scene. It’s a topic easily applied to notable folks from any walk of life. Local readers will always have some interest in what these experts have to say about their home.

When Ira Glass comes to SU in roughly two weeks, it’s a bit of a heightened situation. We’re a top journalism school, he’s a top journalist (who’s not shy to speak up for that matter).

The writing is literally on the wall and Ira’s opinion it would be relevant and informed…

Where do you stand on first amendment and freedom of speech issues? While producing TAL, have you ever encountered any troubles around first amendment rights?

Links: n/a

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.