On Friday afternoon, Davidson parent Robert Strauss held an informational session for students interested in pursuing a career in journalism. Father of Ella Strauss ’14 and Sylvia Strauss ‘17, Mr. Strauss has been published in numerous national publications, including Sports Illustrated, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the New York Times. In addition, Mr. Strauss served as an adjunct professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s English department for ten years, as well as the University of Delaware’s English department for five years. In 2011, Mr. Strauss published his first book Daddy’s Little Goalie and is currently in the early stages of his latest project, based on his New York Times article “What Do You Want to Be, Now That You’re Grown.”
Mr. Strauss spoke to students about his start in the field of journalism—although he had always had a love of newspapers and sports, he never considered them as a way to make a living. In college, he met a girl he was interested in, who turned out to be the upcoming editor of the college’s newspaper. She asked him to be the paper’s Sports Editor and as Mr. Strauss says, “You can guess why I said yes.” As it turns out, the girl transferred the next semester, and Mr. Strauss was left in charge of the Sports page.
This series of events prompted Mr. Strauss to apply to and attend graduate school at UC-Berkeley for one quarter, after which he dropped out. He bought a bus pass, knocked on doors, and got a newspaper job in Mankato, Minnesota.
Mr. Strauss emphasized that he started out small, and believes the process of entering the field today would be much the same. From there, Mr. Strauss notes, “Every job I’ve ever had had to do with connections.” He encouraged students to use their Davidson connections, family connections, and any other connection available to get a foot in the door. “Anybody can do entry-level jobs,” says Mr. Strauss. “The hard part is getting one.”
As a freelance journalist, Mr. Strauss shared with students the process of submitting a story idea to a publication. He stressed the importance in being interested in what you write, as well as the value of looking beyond the Internet for sources. “Even if you can get the story online, go out and see someone.”
Ultimately, Mr. Strauss noted, “It’s not necessarily a bad time to go into journalism. It’s just a different time.” He concluded by telling students that if journalism is their passion, they should pursue it, but never do anything for free!
Thank you to Mr. Strauss for taking time to speak with Davidson students and to Ella Strauss for keeping the conversation on track!