5 Key Takeaways from Matt Thompson, Editor-in-Chief of Reveal

Matt Thompson, Editor-in-Chief of Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and former Executive Editor for The Atlantic, talked about the passion for local news he developed as a young reporter at The Fresno Bee. Here are five key take-aways from his Q&A with Mustang News Managing Editor Cassandra Garibay during a campus visit in February.

Matt Thompson came to Cal Poly for a Q&A session with the Journalism Department.
Matt Thompson spoke to students at a Q&A in February.

1. “I love that sensation of finding out things that would interest or be useful for the people around me. And then that moment when we published, and everyone was talking about my story. That was intensely powerful for me.”

2. “When as an industry we are fighting for our lives, struggling for sustainability, when the business models are unclear, then that uncertainty that that creates can seep into coverage decisions. … That uncertainty led to a lot of existential questioning in newsrooms and for journalists too. … When the business model is no longer a fact but a question, it means that there is invention and re-invention.”

3. “There’s always been this phenomenon in J schools: talking to students who are journalists where there’s this disconnect between the work they want to do and the work that they and their friends all want to read… but what really compels, fascinates, scintillates, hooks the people all around you, that’s where the future is going to be.”

4. “I think that [local news stories] are some of the richest stories. There is only so much journalism that you can really wring out of a story that thousands of people are covering. As an industry, we have way over-weighted and over-invested and over-resourced a story that does not need that many reporting resources.”

5. “You would get an A if your story not only rings true to the people at the center of it, but it unearths an insight for them about their experience [and} also has something to reveal to everybody else.”

By Ellie Spink

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