Andrew Malcolm’s media career began when he was introduced to a Foreign Correspondent at his Prep School in the late 1950s. Since then, he has been able to surmount multiple media platforms from his print media days as an Editor, Columnist, National Correspondent, Foreign Correspondent and Bureau Chief in Tokyo, Toronto and Chicago for The New York Times, Press Secretary for First Lady Laura Bush, writing ten books and then blogging for the Los Angeles Times and finally at Investor’s Business Daily. Andrew is also widely known on Twitter and other social media platforms and is the Tuesday Co-host of the “Ed Morrissey Show.”
Politisite Politics and Entertainment writer, Jennifer Williams, had a chance to speak with Mr. Malcolm for an extensive interview covering a wide range of topics including his start in Journalism, covers his print and multimedia career, his political outlook and his advice to beginning bloggers and journalists.
We believe this interview to be the quintessential guidebook of sorts for anyone interested in new media, journalism and political blogging.
Enjoy Part III!
Andrew’s Advice to beginning Bloggers
Jennifer Williams: And what kind of advice would you give to a young blogger starting out today?
Andrew Malcolm: I’d say start out as a Journalist and THEN get into blogging. You have to have some experience. You have to have a professional context, you have to have an intellectual context to write from and the fact of the matter is that most of the population isn’t twenty-four years old. And most people, if you ask them “Do you want to hear what a twenty-four year old thinks about the Healthcare Plan? Chances are… the answer would be “no.” You have to create an area of expertise… you have to be a really good writer in a variety of forms and have more confidence in yourself than most young people do. They act like it, but they don’t really have it. I didn’t either. It’s not a criticism.
Jennifer Williams: All of us are like that.
Andrew Malcolm: When you are twenty-nine, you don’t know as much as when you are forty-nine or fifty-nine. So in terms of Journalism, I would probably tell a young person starting out today to not go into print. Figure out some other ways to do it. I’ve been there for several generations of print and each one of them is different. I found it to be very exciting and interesting. The future is so uncertain that I wouldn’t want someone to invest all their education into one form of Journalism. Chances are that in eighteen months from now, it’s going to be different.
Jennifer Williams: Would you give the same advice to a more “seasoned” person starting out in blogging today? Because it seems to be more people in their 40s, 50s and 60s coming on-line.
Andrew Malcolm: Yes. I’ve been invited by several political interest groups to come and talk to their bloggers. They’re training generations of writers, because the newspapers are cutting back in State Capitals and City Halls. They are trying to fill the void and I tell them to find what the story is and tell it in the most interesting way. But, that it is story-telling. You are not trying to fix Society. You won’t. So you are setting yourself up for failure. Give that one up right now. Bernstein & Woodward and all that? Forget it. Just start out by telling good stories. People want to hear stories. What is more fundamental to the human experience than good stories. Okay? Nothing. Those cave dwellers in France were people trying to tell stories. The Bible is a series of stories. The Koran is a series of stories. Stories have always been and always will… what is “David and Goliath”? That’s “Rocky ”!
Jennifer Williams: The ultimate underdog story.
Andrew Malcolm: Yes. What is Cinderella? It’s Pretty Woman and My Fair Lady. There are about fourteen or fifteen different stories in the human experience. Any other story is a spin-off. That’s very creative, but you are not trying to be a “Big Shot.” You’re not trying to change Society. You’re trying to tell a story and then there is a place for you and you can develop your skills of story-telling. It’ll be different than mine and different than anybody else’s.
As I told these young bloggers, not all of them young, “Don’t try to be like me. Don’t try to be like somebody else. Try to be like yourself. There’s already a ME. And there’s nobody like YOU. If you bring your talents, your skills and your interests and your motivation… you can make yourself into a unique product.” Well, you couldn’t do that before the Internet and now you can.
There is a great freedom now in terms of politics and bureaucracy. I don’t think many people realize that the Freedom of the internet has placed much more responsibility on the individual. Because there’s so many choices out there, the individual voter needs to set a regimen. You can’t be spoon-fed the news anymore. You know when I was young, Walter Cronkite did the news in twenty-two minutes getting most of it off the front page of that day’s New York Times and at the end, he’s say “And that’s the way it is.” Well, nobody can say that anymore. You could think in those days that by watching that newscast, you were getting “the news.” Well, you just sort of got your appetite whetted. Now… a responsible American citizen in this Democracy needs to have a regular route of information data in place that they can go to for their daily dose of news. Not just one place, but several. And then get some news, some opinion, some entertainment, some sports, some funny stuff and go to those places. Have all those book-marked and then do it. Do it as routinely as they do going to the gym or anything else. It is just part of their daily life. I don’t think many people realize that and that to me is a concern.
Jennifer Williams: Especially not going to just one perspective and making sure you get both perspectives.
Andrew Malcolm: It’s the way we are. If you look on Twitter, what is re-tweeted is what somebody agrees with most of the time. I’m not saying you need to be open to different views, but you have to understand the arguments against yours.
Jennifer Williams: That helps you make better arguments to help support your own positions.
Andrew Malcolm: Exactly.
Andrew Malcolm: The Future
Jennifer Williams: Are you working on a new book or are you working on one about President Obama?
Andrew Malcolm: No, I don’t [have plans]. The business has changed. If I did something, it would probably be [self-published] on Amazon. Because of the freedom of that thing. The traditional book industry wants block-busters and I had some best sellers, but looking back, you probably wouldn’t call them block-busters. So I think I’m sort of out of that market. Yes, I have some ideas on some things. I’m not into novels, but… maybe something like putting together a bunch of experiences.
Jennifer Williams: Sounds like something in non-fiction…
Andrew Malcolm: Probably. But, that’s just because I enjoy reading it. Because you know everything that goes into it. I love reading fiction and I really don’t want to analyze how I to do it. But I just want to enjoy it and if I was going to do it, I’d have to break it apart and then figure out how to do it like building a cart from scratch. “How do you do this?” And “How do you do that?” “How does this character have a life?” And you have to pattern it and so on. I’m sort of in the mold of writing about what I see and how I react to it. My ten books were all non-fiction. There was a true murder mystery, a true mercy-killing, there was a couple of travel books and an autobiography. And there was a biography about the smallest player in the National Hockey League. And there was a collection of my stories already, so I don’t have plans right now. I’m too busy at my daily job.
Jennifer Williams: You have to sleep at some point.
Andrew Malcolm: When I did the books, it was fun because I never took six-months time off as it was a luxury that I couldn’t afford. I would get up at four in the morning and work on my book until about ten. And then, I would go off and do another Times job and it was hard. It took a lot of discipline because it was like running a marathon. If at mile eight, you’re thinking about mile twenty-two… you are just going to go home. There’s no way you can do it. If you are thinking about the next hundred yards, then you can do it. Pretty soon, you’re a quarter-mile farther than you were. You just keep at it, keep at it, keep at it until the story is done.
Jennifer Williams: Was it harder to write when you had children?
Andrew Malcolm: No, it was a great motivation, because I knew they were going to be in college! I can say that every one of my children graduated without any college debt.
Jennifer Williams: That is awesome.
Andrew Malcolm: Yes, it was very satisfying to help them.
Jennifer Williams: In this day and age, that is the ultimate freedom. They can take any job they want, so they can find out what they want to do with their life.
Andrew Malcolm: My children were very helpful. Because around the turn of the century, I had a son who was getting deeply involved on-line and I was curious about that because he was my son. Not thinking that I would get into it. But at one point, I had four children… each of whom had been fed, clothed, educated, doctored, traveled, entertained solely by my earnings from a newspaper. And not one of them read a newspaper.
Jennifer Williams: Wow.
Andrew Malcolm: I thought, “there is something going on here.” So when the Editors came to me and said they were interested in designing a blog. I said, “Let me do that!” Because I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, but I knew that the days of traditional print were in danger. And I was intellectually curious. I wanted to know… How do you do this stuff? Unless I could… a lot of my colleagues were comfortable knowing how to do the print stuff. They didn’t really want to take on the challenge of learning a new thing. I can understand that. It can be scary.
Jennifer Williams: It can be daunting.
Andrew Malcolm: Yes. But for me, it was just plain exciting.
Andrew Malcolm on Politics
Jennifer Williams: President Obama’s has a little more than three years left in his Presidency. Where do you see things going from here until he leaves office?
Andrew Malcolm: As I always say… I try not to get into the prediction business. But, I will say that as of now. I’ve become increasingly worried about the condition of the country in many ways. Economically, politically, spiritually. President Obama is firmly committed to taking our country down a path I strongly disagree with.
I first voted in 1964 and I cried in the booth because it is such a big deal. You had to be 21 in those days. In the interim, you have candidates that you like or don’t like or cheered for and some times… your person loses and their other guys come in and you disagree with what they are doing. There is a pendulum swing and there is an on-going continuity of “American” to it. So you could say to yourself, I don’t like that but I can see where they are coming from. Maybe if we get some better ideas, maybe our side can win. But this guy wants to fundamentally change the country. I don’t think anybody can argue about that. You can argue whether it should be changed fundamentally. However, the voters spoke last time and he got 8,000,000 fewer votes than he did the first time. Obviously, a lot of people like myself had doubts and so I’m really concerned about where the country is going.
Once Obama is gone, we will repair ourselves. It is his philosophy, his political strategy is to have people fighting all the time. We used to have political campaigns and then there was an Election and if you lost there was a period of suffering and then you moved on. Then you started the game over again. But President Obama’s campaigns never end. He will ask Congress to do something, they do it and then he criticizes them for doing it. The cynicism and hypocrisy is just overpowering. It’s very “Chicago.” It is how the machine operates and that machine, like a virus had been confined to that City and that State. But now he’s brought it to Washington and I really am worried about the Country. Some of my friends will say to me, “Americans… they are wusses for a long time. And then they rise up and take control.” I guess I’ll wait for the rise.
Jennifer Williams: Do you have any plans to slow down or retire?
Andrew Malcolm: I have no plans to retire. I love Investor’s Business Daily and the people there. I’m getting more involved with things every week. I love it.
I suppose at some point, it’ll be down the road a ways… I’ll say “screw it!” And that is when I should retire.
Jennifer Williams: Hopefully Not for a Long Time!
- Andrew Malcolm Interview – Part I
- Andrew Malcolm Interview – Part II
- Andrew Malcolm Interview – Part III