So the “opening” keynote today featured two staff writers from The Daily Show with John Stewart – Zhubin Parang and Hallie Haglund. It consisted of the director of the CMANYC conference, Michael Koretzky, asking questions of the two speakers to start off with, allowing students to ask questions as well.
As awesome it was to hear about the lives behind the scenes of such a popular show (especially among college students), I was surprised at how the keynote progressed. I think I expected it to appeal to a larger group of journalists as a whole, not just a niche. The sessions allowed you to pick a specialized area that you really wanted to learn more about. In the SPJ National Conference that I went to last year in New Orleans, the keynotes always had speakers who discussed a wide-range topic that could be broadly applied. I guess this is what I was expecting with these writers. This is not to say that I didn’t love hearing about their experiences because I did, it was just different and I think a bit too specialized to be considered a keynote session.
Although this is true, it was interesting to hear the daily process of this type of show. It always seems to run so smoothly whenever it is on during the week, but of course, we never see the behind the scenes action. I really enjoyed learning about this, especially when hearing that the writers’ various backgrounds. Parang was a lawyer before joining the staff of The Daily Show, others were in marketing and others were even in journalism – this is definitely not something I’ve considered before as a career path but hey, it’s a pretty cool thing to think about.