Press Pass is rolling out the Daily Bruin Alumni Q&A series, where we connect with past staffers in the paper and see where the Daily Bruin has taken them in their respective careers.
The music hasn’t stopped for David Greenwald, who joined the Daily Bruin his freshman year and became a music editor (2005-2006) and A&E editor (2006-2007). Throughout college, Greenwald interned at Billboard and Entertainment Weekly. After graduating in 2007 with a degree in English, he landed an internship at the Los Angeles Times. Greenwald now works at The Oregonian, a daily in Portland.
The Daily Bruin’s Francesca Manto spoke with Greenwald about the Daily Bruin and its impact on his career.
Daily Bruin: What do you do now at The Oregonian?
David Greenwald: I am a music critic and reporter. I’ve been here since October 2013. Before that I was freelancing, working as a contributing editor to Billboard.com for about two years. It’s challenging – I have to cover everything from the blues festival to the Mötley Crüe concert – but I really love it. I get to do different stuff every week. I have a lot of independence. It’s always been my dream job to be a music critic. It’s not just hang out and listen to records all day and write two or three articles a week. I have to blog every day, do breaking news, balance local with national stuff, keep track of traffic and page views. It’s a lot more complicated than I thought it would be when I was younger, but it’s been really great.
DB: Why did you #JoinDB while at UCLA?
DG: I was really interested in music journalism, specifically. I came to UCLA hoping I would be on The Bruin because I knew it was one of the top college newspapers in the country, and so really from the time I started, I was keeping an eye on the application and really wanted to participate and just see what it would be like to be on a big newspaper. I had been on my high school paper for a year, which was obviously much smaller. Once I got started it really was everything I wanted it to be, and a great and fun group of people. It’s really what made me go into journalism, based off my experiences at The Bruin.
DB: Describe the environment of the newsroom at that time.
DG: We had a lot of fun as everyone was serious about the work, but there was a lot of joking and goofing around. It was a really fun culture to be in. The older writers and editors were really cool about mentoring and really trying to get the interns up to speed and educate us. It was this really cool thing to have students teaching each other and building their skills and creating something together.
DB: What was your favorite story you reported on?
DG: I got to interview Stan Lee from Marvel Comics. He was coming to UCLA, so we got to talk on the phone. He was just terrific and one of my heroes, so that was a great experience to have as a writer in college.
DB: What was the biggest moment for the newspaper while you were there?
DG: It was kind of a tumultuous time. We were working on a big redesign of our website. It was the very beginning of blogging. The biggest change for me was the Arts & Entertainment section went from this weekly DB magazine to being folded into the daily paper as a money saving measure, but that meant we had to produce three times the amount of stories. The year I became A&E editor is when that happened.
DB: Do you still keep in touch with those you worked with at the Daily Bruin?
DG: Oh, absolutely. Mark Humphrey, who was the music editor when I was A&E editor, was the best man at my wedding. I still talk to a bunch of those folks, and it’s been really cool to see who’s stayed in journalism and watch their careers grow. It’s been interesting to see how many people went to law school as well, and it’s great to see those folks doing well even though we’re not in the same field anymore.
DB: What advice do you have for the Daily Bruin staff today?
DG: You’re in the right place. The best thing anyone can do is to understand that journalism is a business where you have to have a number of different skill sets. You can’t just be a great interviewer, you can’t just be a good art critic, you can’t just be good at breaking news. You kind of have to have as many skills as possible. Working at the Daily Bruin, you know what it’s like to work in a newsroom. I think that gives people on The Bruin an advantage. Try to do as many different things as you can, read good journalism and figure out: How did someone write this story? What makes the writing so good? Take this time now when there’s no pressure and get really good at it.