More Information
Source
Scholastic Kids Press Corps
The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.

David Shuster Shares His Strategy

Research, knowledge, passion make for good journalism says MSNBC journalist

By Joe Wlos | November 2 , 2009
Kid Reporter Joe Wlos with MSNBC host David Shuster. (Photo courtesy Joe Wlos)
Kid Reporter Joe Wlos with MSNBC host David Shuster. (Photo courtesy Joe Wlos)

From the set of MSNBC's Washington, D.C., studio, you can't miss noticing how much David Shuster enjoys covering the lighter side of current events. You can also see the intensity he brings to reporting on critical issues. Shuster is the co-host of MSNBC's 3p.m. news program and is a regular guest host for the network's popular show "Countdown with Keith Olbermann."

Shuster's enthusiasm for journalism started at a young age.

"Our family would watch the evening news every night, and we would sit around the dinner table and talk about current events," Shuster said. "So, my brothers and I all became very interested in the news, reading the newspaper every day."

Shuster worked for his high school yearbook and newspaper before becoming involved in broadcast journalism at the University of Michigan campus radio station. After graduating from college with a degree in political science, Shuster worked as a field producer for CNN and then as a reporter for Fox News. In 2002, he moved to rival network MSNBC as a correspondent for "Hardball with Chris Mathews."

Today's 24-hour news cycle demands that journalists be able to discuss a wide range of topics and search out the stories that capture America's attention. Shuster has scoured the globe for news, reporting on events as varied as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the selection of Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.

He says that newsworthy material can be found just about anywhere; it is only a matter of viewing it in a bigger picture. Deciding what information is important in the context of a story and how to convey it to the audience are critical skills for a journalist. Shuster believes that the most important news "is a story that tells you something you didn't know before you heard it, and it's a story that tells us something about our world, our community, or how we live our lives."

Shuster told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps that Hurricane Katrina was the most difficult and one of the most memorable events that he has ever covered. He reported from Biloxi, Mississippi—one of the most devastated cities—as the eye of the hurricane passed over the region.

"Just to see the devastation and how much people were impacted was something that, I think, those of us who were there will never forget," he said.

A 30-foot storm surge and 125 mile-per-hour winds bombarded Biloxi for hours, leaving a path of destruction. One family that Shuster met had ridden out the storm on the second story of their furniture store. They were very worried about some of their customers, who could not afford to leave Biloxi before the storm.

In situations like this, it's sometimes difficult for reporters to maintain their composure.

"As the tears are coming down their eyes, the tears are coming down yours, because it is a compelling, dramatic story," said Shuster. "And sometimes the only thing you can do as a journalist is try to then take that emotion that you're feeling and let the pictures, the sound, and the story convey that to your viewer. So they don't hear the emotion from you, but they hear it from the people that you're talking to."

Interviewing a subject can be one of the most interesting, and one of the more difficult, aspects of broadcast journalism. Whether interviewing a politician or a celebrity, Shuster believes that having a keen understanding of the facts can always help a journalist find the truth.

"I need to understand the facts really well so that I know that if they're shading the facts or saying something that may not be true, that I can try to sort of correct them or challenge them as to why they're saying what they're saying," he said.

Although it may seem difficult to challenge a famous or important person in an interview, Shuster says being prepared makes all the difference.

"If you've done your research, if you've done your homework, it becomes a little more natural," he said. "The material is what gives you the confidence to do that. The people who are most effective and talented, to be able to do that interview, they let the material carry them through."

Shuster feels that the most important things for a young journalist to learn are how to think critically about an issue and how to write well. He says his writing skills helped him land his first job in the business.

He also stressed the importance of reading and learning new information in order to keep up with the ideas and events discussed in broadcast news every day.

"Beyond that, is to follow your interest," Shuster said. "There is always an area of journalism for you."

More Tips from the Pros


For more tips from professional journalists, check out the Scholastic Kids Press Corps Tips from the Pros page.

About the Author

Joe Wlos is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Continuum of Engagement

    Continuum of Engagement

    Developed to prepare students to be college and career ready, Scholastic’s supplemental ELA programs XBOOKS, On the Record and ID provide increasingly complex texts on a continuum of engaging topics and themes.
    These innovative programs meet the needs of middle school/high school students and can be flexibly integrated into ELA strategies and curricula for grades 6–12, depending on classroom needs.*
    XBOOKS Unlock the Power and Pleasure of Reading
    Providing high-interest nonfiction in print and digital formats, XBOOKS was developed by master teachers Laura Robb and Dr. Jeff Wilhelm. The program’s website is embedded with exciting multimedia content that includes video and audio clips, slide shows, animations and interactive instruction.

    On the Record Inspire Students to Read with Skill, Write with Passion and Live with Purpose
    Developed by Dr. Alfred Tatum and Erin Gruwell, founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation, On the Record tells stories of perseverance and transformation in paired profiles of contemporary figures such as Amy Tan, Sherman Alexie, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Sonia Nazario that inspire continued inquiry, reading and writing.

    ID Engage Readers, Empower Writers and Improve ELA Skills
    Developed by Dr. Alfred Tatum, ID’s compelling texts and rigorous writing activities prepare students for the academic challenges ahead. Based on a collaborative model, ID workshops explore identity and differing life experiences while inspiring a deeper engagement with literary traditions.

    Used together,
    XBOOKS, On the Record and ID provide a continuum of increasingly challenging inquiry-based lessons designed to give students an upper hand in getting college and career ready.

    Students will:
    • Build skills in close reading, comprehension, analysis and critical thinking
    • Evaluate, analyze and cite evidence
    • Demonstrate independence in reading and writing
    • Build strong, wide-ranging content knowledge
    • Respond to varying demands of audience, task, purpose and discipline
    • Comprehend and critique


    * Programs can also be flexibly integrated into extended day, summer school and after school programs with modified pacing. Call for more information.

    $2,442.90 You save: 35%
    Paperback Book Collection | Grades 6-12
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Continuum of Engagement
    Grades 6-12 $2,442.90
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Scholastic Scope

    Scholastic Scope

    The Scope print & online teaching supplement combines complex texts with rigorous performance tasks to build critical ELA skills directly from the Common Core Standards. Every print issue features a wide range of genres, including exciting informational and narrative nonfiction, historical fiction, drama, and more. Scope Online features in-depth support with dazzling videos, audio articles, and leveled resources for differentiated instruction. You’'ll also find a wealth of challenging activities, text-based writing prompts, and reader tasks modeled on key assessments. Grades 6–8, Monthly.

    $8.99
    Classroom Magazine | Grades 6-12
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Scholastic Scope
    Grades 6-12 $8.99
    Add To Cart
Privacy Policy
EMAIL THIS

* YOUR FIRST NAME ONLY

* FRIEND'S FIRST NAME ONLY

* FRIEND'S EMAIL ADDRESS

MESSAGE
Here's something interesting from Scholastic.com