Producer for This American Life Neil Drumming came by the J-school last week for a conversation with students in the Stabile Center. Speakers Director Natasha Frost, who coordinated the talk, has this write-up about the event held last Monday:
Neil’s career in journalism began almost by accident under the mentorship of the late David Carr, who spotted his enthusiasm for and interest in hip hop and rap and encouraged him to write about it. From there, Neil has worked as a critic, a writer, a filmmaker and now, also seemingly by accident, a radio producer. But, as he told students, it’s all storytelling – and the biggest difference between fictional stories and the journalistic ones he produces for This American Life is that the journalistic ones happen to be true.
He spoke frankly about his experiences of writing personally; the importance of having and developing a ‘voice’ as a writer, which he said was not easily taught; and about the differences between the various mediums he has worked in. He also fielded questions on the pitching process of the TAL, how the team works collaboratively to edit, and the kinds of stories he wants to tell there.
The Stabile Student Center was almost full – and those who came left musing on how frank and approachable Neil had been (he spoke to students on a one-on-one basis afterwards); how lively discussion had been; and how much they’d enjoyed the evening. A great start to what will hopefully be a series of stimulating, thought-provoking and fun speaker events.