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

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.


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