Manning: I’ve always loved reading the news and other nonfiction writing. I also love telling people about something interesting they don’t already know about — which is not always an endearing trait.
TDQ: My daughter graduates high school in 2020. Should I just wait until then to call you about her journalism scholarship, or do we need to fill out some paperwork ahead of time?
Manning: We would love to see her at the Cronkite School — you can’t get started too early. I told my daughter she has three choices for college: Harvard, The University of Florida, or Arizona State University.
TDQ: Who were your favorite journalists/writers growing up?
Manning: When I was very young I loved Twain’s nonfiction satire and essays. I read everything that he wrote. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” changed my life when I was in middle school. Lewis Grizzard — the Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist and satirist — was a favorite when I was in high school. In college it was Faulkner and Tom Wolfe, and, of course, David Foster Wallace. My favorite class at UF, by far, was Literary Journalism taught by Wayne Garcia — wherein we read Wolfe, Hersey, Capote, Hunter S. Thompson and many more. Class sessions were often held at (local bars) the Purple Porpoise or the Salty Dog. Wayne wasn’t big on the trappings of pedagogy. The class was awesome in every way.
TDQ: Who was your favorite Arizona State Journalism professor growing up?
Manning: Growing up I knew nothing about Arizona State. But when I was in j-school at UF I first came to know about Len Downie — who at the time was executive editor of the “Washington Post.” Years later I got to work with Downie at the Post. And now he is a professor here at the Cronkite School at ASU.
TDQ: What can you tell us about the current state of student media at Arizona State University?
Manning: College media everywhere is struggling — like the rest of the industry — to re-invent itself. Most college media programs are very traditional newspaper and/or broadcast operations. The student paper here at ASU — The State Press — has been around in one form or another since 1890. So the big challenge is how to move forward in a digital world but keep what’s important from the past. Again, this is a challenge for all media organizations, but it is an especially interesting one for college media. But our students are equal to the task. Every year they win umpteen national and regional awards. They have amazing digital skills and great vision for what good journalism will look like in the future. I just have to make sure they have support and the knowledge base they need to make good decisions.
TDQ: Besides the weather, what’s the biggest difference between working in Washington, DC and working in Phoenix?
Manning: My wife and I loved living in DC – it’s full of bright, incredibly interesting people. On the other hand — to use a cliche — DC really is a “bubble.” Your reality can get distorted if you’re not careful. Almost everything is viewed through the prism of power, party and politics. Those themes do not dominate the lives of people in Arizona — which is refreshing.
TDQ: Isn’t your career really all downhill from here after this interview runs?
TDQ: Are you on Twitter? If yes, why aren’t you following @dailyquarterly?
Manning: I am following @dailyquarterly. Check your followers list.
Manning: Well, with most news sites something like two thirds of the traffic comes in “sideways” — that is from a link in a social media post, or a blog post, or an e-mail. So I dare say that your Twitter account is just as important, if not more so, than your homepage.
TDQ: You’re welcome for our time
Manning: I am sure it was your pleasure.