By Jenna Palme ‘17
Novelist, journalist, and media entrepreneur are just some of the titles held by Rich Zahradnik who came to speak with Ms. Catherine Kaczmarek’s journalism classes on February 9, 2016.
Zahradnik was a journalist for thirty years before becoming a novelist within the last five years. He also goes to schools to talk with students about reporting as well as to inspire them to start a newspaper. He gives advice to students and answers any questions that they may have about the industry.
He got into journalism at the age of 15 when a letter to the editor he wrote was published. “I liked seeing my name in the paper,” said Zahradnik. He continued to pursue a job in journalism, eventually cofounding The Peekskill Herald while also working on different projects such as CCNfn.com and Netscape.com.
When giving advice, he tells people to write more because “writers get better by writing.”
Zahradnik treated the class as a press conference, speaking for a while then letting the students ask questions. He believes that finding things out and asking the right questions shows a person’s curiosity.
When speaking of the advantages of being a journalist, Zahradnik said, “It helps you become a better sentence writer.” This is evident when he said that companies suggest that their employees take a class in journalism to improve their writing skills.
He speaks highly of journalism, as it’s the only private job mentioned in the Constitution.
Zahradnik also reminded students of the importance of reporting in journalism, as people usually believe it’s more about writing. Gathering information for a piece will take up more time and energy than actually writing it. He told the students that the two highest prizes of the Pulitzer Prize are for reporting, not writing, though that holds importance as well.
He believes that if you truly care about what you’re writing and enjoy doing what you do, writer’s block shouldn’t be an issue. Zahradnik said that you only run into this problem if you don’t really care for your topic and just feel pressured to do it.
“If your mother tells you she loves you, check out 2 independent sources,” he said while talking about the credibility of sources, especially now with the Internet.
Zahradnik also offered some input on Argus, saying that he liked the variety of news it covers and that students are informed of things they may have never heard of or have taken part in.
“You are the representative of the people in this case here at the school,” he said when reminding the students why they write for Argus.
Lisaveta Slinko ’17 said, “He showed me that it’s possible to have a career in journalism.”