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September 29, 2015 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily

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ebecca Blumenstein was edi-
tor in chief of The Michigan

Daily during her last year on staff
while at the University. Today, she
is deputy editor in chief at The
Wall Street Journal. She started
her time at the Journal in Detroit
in 1995 before becoming the Jour-
nal’s China bureau chief from
2005 to 2009. There, she led the
team that won the Pulitzer Prize
in International Reporting in

Q: What was your experience

like working for the Daily and what
about it do you think was unique?

When I walked into the Daily, I

didn’t know how to write a head-
line, I didn’t know how to write
a news story, but I was taught by
editors who were fellow students
and it was a remarkable training
ground for journalism. It really
worked ... the most amazing thing
about the Daily — I also met my
husband there — was how much
you could grow and learn how to
do things while working with your
peers. I never took a journalism
class and I think it’s better that
way because you can’t rely on any-
one else; you have to do it yourself.
The editors were pretty demand-
ing and you worked your way up
to other possibilities as you proved
yourself. It was a place of excite-
ment; I don’t think my parents
understood why I was spending

so much time at the Daily instead
of on my academic work. I think
in retrospect that’s one of the best
parts of the Daily, that it is inde-
pendent of the University and you
get out of it what you put into it.

Q: So because, as you said, the

Daily is completely separate from
academic work at the University,
how did you balance those two
aspects of your life and how has
that balancing act benefited your


A: I didn’t sleep much. I took a

more-than-full course load, which
in retrospect was silly, and I also
chose to double major in Econ and
Political Science through the (Res-
idential College) and I took a class
there, “Economics of Inequal-
ity,” that really changed my life. I
didn’t make it easy on myself — I
would meet friends at the Brown
Jug at midnight — but something
about being young and not need-
ing to sleep much helped.

Q: What advice would you give

to current Daily staffers and recent


A: I would say that you have

the advantage and disadvantage
of being kind of on your own. You
have to get an internship and have
the clips and the experience and
keep building from that. It has
changed a little as journalism has

changed because there are fewer
smaller publications that offer
internships in the way that there
were when I was doing it, but there
are still quite a few. It’s important
to become a bit of a news junkie.
It’s helped that I’ve known how to
cover news stories, talk to people
dealing with tragedies, and just
being comfortable reporting on
a range of things and hopefully
getting the reporting and writing

Q: You’ve had a variety of

internships and positions at dif-
ferent publications over the years
— in places ranging from China to
Florida to New York City. What
guided you as you made those
career decisions that ultimately

landed you your current position as
deputy editor in chief at The Wall

Street Journal?

A: I am from a pretty small

town in Michigan and I always
wanted to work in a big newsroom
where there were people who
really believed in the work they
were doing, kind of like the Daily
was for me. There were some situ-
ations where it was clear I had
learned as much as I was going to
and it was time to move on. So as
far as working at the Journal, it’s
just been a very stimulating place
to be from the moment I walked
in. I am always amazed by the
level of discussion and challenge
here, and the nice thing about
being at a news organization is
that I’ve had a variety of different
jobs, but I’ve stayed at this same
news organization for 20 years.



ost people spend their
college years preparing

for the job they’ll have after gradu-

But for Jeremy Peters, a Daily

alum who now works as a political
reporter for The New York Times,
the job overtook the preparation
while he was still in college — and
he’s still doing it 16 years later.

During his time at The Michi-

gan Daily, Peters, a 2002 graduate
of the University, covered the 2000
presidential campaign as a news
reporter and editor. Today, he is
covering the 2016 campaign for the
Times, with a focus on Republican

Q: What’s most memorable about

your time at the Daily?

I was fortunate enough to have

been at Michigan during a presi-
dential election year — this was
2000, and so it was when Bush was
running against Gore and at the
time Michigan was a very impor-
tant swing state, kind of more so
than it is now because there was

actually some hope that Repub-
licans could win it. So the Daily
would send us out, me and a couple
other reporters who were assigned
to the politics beat, to cover these
campaign events, from Flint, to
Lansing, all over the state. And we
would pile into a University-owned
station wagon or something like
that with a photographer and head
out to these big events and it was
really a great learning experience
because it’s not all that often that
college students are able to experi-
ence first-hand a presidential cam-
paign like that and surprisingly, the
campaigns were very accommo-
dating of Daily reporters who were
covering it.

Q: What was it like being a stu-

dent reporter, getting your first

experiences with reporting at these
campaign events where there are
a lot of national, professional news

organizations around?

I guess the thing was, is I always

— maybe this was arrogant on my
part, or the youthful inexperience

of a 20 year old, but I kind of always
just considered myself to be a pro-
fessional reporter right from the
get-go, and I kind of expected to be
treated as such.

That was the thing that the

Daily always instilled in me, was
this sense that what we were doing
was very important and it was a
task to be taken very seriously.

Q: Beyond the 2000 campaign, is

there any news story that stands out
to you from your time at the Daily?

9/11 happened when my class

was editors. And I happened to
be the news editor on duty that
day, that Tuesday, September 11th.
And that was certainly a horrify-
ing experience, but also kind of one
that really, I think, energizes your
sensibilities as a reporter and really
requires you to make decisions
and judgment calls that you really
never, in a way, never anticipated
having to do.

And it was also, even more

importantly, it was an experience
that showed us we could all work
together and be the best versions of
ourselves when the paper and the
University needed us to be.



with Rebecca


President Barack Obama speaks to students about raising the minimum wage at the Intramural Building on
Wednesday, April 2, 2014.


Q&A: with Jeremy Peters

Managing photo
editor landed on
the presidential
campaign trail


Managing Editor

Fresh out of college and in

search of a short-term gig as a
campaign photographer, David
Katz marched into the Chicago
campaign office of a young, rela-
tively unknown state senator
in 2004, armed with a portfo-
lio full of clips from his time as
The Michigan Daily’s managing
photo editor.

The campaign manager was

impressed, and hired Katz on
the spot. But the push for the
open U.S. Senate seat was in its
early stages and tight on cash, so
Katz and the campaign manager
struck a deal: He could start as a
volunteer, and if their candidate
prevailed in the Democratic pri-
maries on March 16, Katz would
become a paid staffer.

“I said, ‘That sounds good,’

” Katz recalled. “ ‘When do I
start?’ ”

The manager asked Katz to

show up the next day. The candi-
date would be at a church on the
South Side of Chicago.

So he showed up at the

church, photographed the event
and followed the candidate to
his car. The candidate gave him
a confused look.

“I said, ‘Oh, maybe they didn’t

tell you,’ ” Katz remembered.
“But the campaign manager told
me to photograph you and follow
you around. He said, ‘Great —
jump in.’ ”

That was Katz’s first interac-

tion with Barack Obama.


friends, spending as many as 14
hours per day, six days per week
together on the campaign trail.
In the years that followed, both
during Obama’s time as senator
and as president, their friendship
prevailed, manifesting in regular
rounds of golf.

Katz ended up moving to

Washington, D.C. after Obama’s
victory to work for the senator,
before heading west to earn his
MBA at Stanford.

His time at the White House

was far from over, however.
When Obama’s 2008 presiden-
tial campaign kicked into high
gear, Katz returned as a cam-
paign photographer, chronicling
the senator as he traveled the

But as Katz followed Obama

to Dublin, Ohio, for a campaign
event that August — barely two
months away from the general
election — there was still some-
body he hadn’t met. Katz remem-
bers Obama’s words to this day:

“Senator Biden, this is David

Katz. He was the photo editor
of The Michigan Daily, and as a
Michigan grad, I’m sorry that we
have to bring him here so close to

The 44th president has a fond-

ness for the University, it seems
— in his seven years in office, he’s

made three trips to Ann Arbor.
In 2010, Katz tagged along to see
the president deliver an address
to the graduates at Spring Com-

“I got to ride on Marine One

with him and land right next to
the Big House and point some
things out as we were in the air,
like, ‘That’s the Michigan golf
course, that’s where campus is.’
He appreciated those things.”

At that point, Katz was work-

ing in the White House as a
special assistant to the energy
secretary. He later became a
senior policy adviser for manu-
facturing before departing for
the private sector. The move
brought him to San Francisco,
where he currently serves as
the director of sales at Quid,
a research and data analytics

Wherever his career has taken

him, though, Katz says the time
he spent at the Daily has proved

“Everybody’s used to working

on deadline and working quick-
ly,” Katz said. “The pace at which
The Michigan Daily operates is
similar to the pace of a presiden-
tial campaign.”

All current and former Daily

staffers know the pace at 420
Maynard Street can indeed
be tough to handle. However,
knowing the prospect of hearing
the president of the United States
utter the phrase “The Michigan
Daily” isn’t entirely out of the
realm of possibility makes the
frenetic work environment just
a bit more manageable.

From 420 Maynard
to 1600 Pennsylvania


Tuesday, September 29, 2015
The Michigan Daily


Oct. 19, 1893

Frederick Douglass
speaks at University.

May 3, 1941

Board “packing” plan

draws protest.

April 12,1955
Polio Vaccine

deemed effective.

Oct. 1, 1927

Michigan Stadium opens.

May 25, 1924



Oct. 14, 1960

President Kennedy
announces idea for

the Peace Corps
at the Michigan


Sept. 26, 1957

Daily staffer reports from inside the newly integrated Little

Rock Central High School.

April, 1958
Two Daily
reporters are

arrested by Batista’s
police for trying to
score an interview
with Fidel Castro.

May 30, 1961

Daily editorial page calls
for changes in the Office

of Student Affairs.

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