One of Teacher Mr. Michael Puffpaff’s former journalism students, John Ketchum, was hired by the New York
Times as an editor. He offered advice to student journalists in a recent interview.
Ketchum works as an editor for the Daily podcast, which means pitching stories and
making sure each episode is accurate, clear, and impactful to the listener. Ketchum has worked in
many other newsrooms, including NPR, American Public Media, Vox Media, and CNN, which
he said prepared him best for his current position. Ketchum said his career
goals are to do the best stories he can, while impacting people’s lives with truth. Ketchum also
stated that he wants to be a good manager and mentor to other journalists.
Ketchum graduated from CMU in winter 2012, and said that the field has changed in both
good and bad ways.
“Journalists are able to do more with all of the mediums at our
disposal and can reach so many more people than we could in the past. An alarming trend over
the past few years has been the downsizing of local media because of failed business models and
just less of an overall investment in news.”
Ketchum knew he wanted to be a journalist
very early on, but didn’t understand his place in the media world right away. Mr. Puffpaff’s
high school journalism class (in Saginaw) actually helped him understand journalism and the everyday tasks of a
journalist. Another inspiration to the writer was his father, who was a journalism teacher at the
high school level, as well as an English and creative writing professor at the college level. Ketchum said
his father’s work ethic made him want to work harder and it has always been a driving
force for Ketchum.
When asked for his advice to young people who are interested in journalism or content creation,
Ketchum stated, “My advice to younger journalists would be to work hard and take things
slowly. Journalism is a complicated profession with a lot of moving parts and I think there’s this
mindset throughout the industry that you should reach all of your goals fast. Careers are long and
understanding, and accepting that will take a lot of pressure off of aspiring journalists to achieve
all of their goals early on. If you achieve them early, great! If not, it’s OK.”