Meet the Media: Damian Radcliffe

Olivia Fuller / December 18, 2017

For this week’s Meet the Media, we’d like you to meet Damian Radcliffe!

Damian Radcliffe is the Carolyn S. Chambers Professor in Journalism at the University of Oregon and is a regular contributor to the BBC Academy, ZDNet, Huffington Post, and more. His past experience includes roles at the BBC, Ofcom (the UK Communications Regulator), and Qatar’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ictQATAR).

Damian Radcliffe

  1. How did you find yourself as a journalist?

By chance. I started my working life in commercial radio and thought that’s where I’d be for life. Little did I know! All of these opportunities have either come through moonshots or connections somewhere in my network, which has helped to get a foot in the door, and thereafter I’ve been lucky enough to have the right skills or knowledge – at the right time – for someone to take a punt on me.

2. Which of your stories are you most proud of? 

Probably the story I’m most proud of was in my radio days, doing an extended interview with an MS sufferer. She was an amazing interviewee, and talked about a subject too few people know enough about. It was very moving. Our studio was on the second floor of an old building, with no lift. She was in a wheelchair, but hauled herself up the stairs for the interview. I remain deeply embarrassed about that (I’d like to think that such pitiful thought about access requirements wouldn’t happen now,) but also in awe of her courage to tell her story and to communicate the realities of living with this disease. I have a cassette tape of the interview, gathering dust in my Mum’s attic in the UK, I think. (Although no machine to play it on!)

More recently, I’d say some of the stories I’ve done for ZDNet, shining a light on areas people don’t know anything about – like the start-up scene in Gaza or the tech scene in Iran – have been great to cover.

3. What is your favorite thing about your job? 

The variety. I get to teach business of media, reporting, podcasting, social media, as well as continue to work as a journalist and do research on important topics like the future of local newspapers or journalism in the Pacific Northwest. I get to work with amazing colleagues, students and editors in the process. I’m very lucky.

4. What is your interview style? 

I don’t know that I really have one. The two things I try to ensure is: 1) You do your homework before any interview – you need to go into an interview informed and to try and ask vaguely smart questions – your interviewee will typically respond and give a better interview when you’ve done this, and 2) You then talk as little as possible in the interview. It’s about your interviewee. Not you.

5. What do you look for in a story? 

An angle or perspective that others, perhaps, haven’t covered. I’m fortunate that most of my work isn’t in a “breaking news” environment, so that allows for more time to be reflective, or to find things you want to highlight (for example, by digging deep into a research report) that others may have missed.

6. What is your day like at your job? 

There’s no such thing as a typical day, but I like that! I am fortunate to have a flexible job, which allows me to divide my time as I see fit. I tend to start the day catching up with news and social media, just to get the gray matter flowing, and find the best times for writing or any kind of creative work are first thing – and last thing, when there’s fewer distractions and I can work for long periods of time uninterrupted.

7. Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry? 

I’d say I look up to institutions more than specific people: the BBC, Guardian, New York, NYT, WaPo, NPR, the Economist… the list is long!

8. What is your favorite news outlet? 

I don’t have a single outlet. I find my use of different outlets fluctuates. This time last year, I was reading a lot of the Washington Post, this year I’m reading a lot more of the New York Times and listening to their podcast, The Daily on my walk to the bus each morning. Same with social media. There was a period when I was finding Facebook to be a great referral engine to stories, now it’s Twitter (again). Beyond that, I consume a lot of content through aggregators like Nuzzel, Apple News and newsletters like Next Draft. They take me to content from sources that might otherwise not come my way (like Digg, NY Mag or Axios). There’s always great content in The Atlantic, and the Hive on Variety is an excellent source for a lot of reporting on both politics and the media. That surprises some of my (non-media) friends whenever I share stuff from them!

9. Fill in the blank: 

  • If I am not reporting, I am…Sleeping or watching TV.
  • If I could interview anyone, it would be…I’d love to be able to interview my cat, Oreo, to see what’s really going on in that head of is. (If indeed anything.) Ditto our former cat Joey who passed away this time last year. But as I’m no Dr. Dolittle, I’ll settle for David Attenborough, a British national treasure and the narrator of the wonderful Blue Planet series – and so many others – produced by the National History Unit at the BBC. And if I had access to a hot tub time machine, I’d love to go back to the 60s to see – and perhaps – interview The Beatles, The Who, Hendrix et al. That would be pretty awesome.

10. What is your guilty pleasure? 

See 9a!

Check out last week’s Meet the Media where we spotlighted  John D’Onofrio, publisher and editor of Adventures NW Magazine.

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