Journalism

Andrew Ross Sorkin started in journalism as a teenager.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Andrew Ross Sorkin: Well I started actually in journalism when I was-- well I started at the New York Times when I was 18 years old actually, but really got into journalism when I was 15 years old and had started a sports magazine which was trying to become a national sports magazine. And frankly, by the time I was about 17 or 17 and a half, we had fallen flat on our face. But it was a great learning experience and is fact probably the reason that I even got the opportunity to step in the door at the New York Times.

I used to read a guy named Stewart Elliot who I still read, who is the advertising columnist of the paper, because before I go visit advertising agencies to try to sell ads when I was 15 years old, I wanted to act as if I knew what was going on and could talk the lingo and so I would read Stewart every day. And so when I was about 18 I wrote Stewart a letter and got him on the phone somehow and said, I wanted to come work for him before I died. I didn’t know who he was or what he was like, but I was fascinated by what he wrote. And he was nice enough to let me come in and come to work for free for five weeks to effectively Xerox and staple. I used to literally cut out his articles in the morning and put them in a folder. That was my first responsibility. So that's how it all started.

 

Question: Did you go to journalism schoool?

 

Andrew Ross Sorkin: I did not. I did not. My training really was at the New York Times you know. When I got there, I was literally supposed to stay there for five weeks and I got lucky like nobody, you know, like nobody's business. I think it was the third week I was there. I was in the building. I had my suit on, must have been doing something right and a woman who had no idea how old I was frankly, overheard me talking about this thing called the internet back when we would write things like, you know, modem comma, a device that transmits data over phone lines. This is now in 1995.

I don't know if that dates myself or not. But she overheard me talking about this, thought I knew something about something and thought I was a real writer person in the building and started assigning me stories. And I remember going back to Stewart and saying, I'm going to do this. And he said, "This is crazy. No high school kid is going to this." And we didn’t tell her how old I was. We gave her the story. They published the story and here I am, so.

 

Recorded on: June 3, 2008.