Dan Snierson (BSJ93, MSJ94) has played catch with Fred Savage, chatted at a post-Emmys party with Aaron Paul and calls Jennifer Garner "Jen."
Snierson shared what it's like to be friendly with some of Hollywood's most famous faces with a group of eager students in a casual, Q&A setting.
After giving a brief overview of his background -- the sports editor for his high school paper who fell in love with the magazine track -- Snierson took questions from students. When asked the timeline of how he writes a story, he captivated the audience with his recollection of the recent profile he did on actor-turned-director-turned-actor Fred Savage, from visiting the set of Savage’s new television show to getting a call from a pleading Savage, who had been asked to throw out the first pitch at a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game and needed Snierson's help.
“He asked me if I had a glove,” Snierson recounted. “I said, ‘No, but I will definitely get one!’” Snierson said he always feels excited after getting the perfect lead for a story, just as he did after his game of catch with Savage.
Snierson also explained about how his industry, television reporting, works. It is all about connections, which takes time to develop. After working in the field for more than 20 years, he has found that as a journalist you need to “fight for your time,” especially with big-name actors that have agents with their own time constraints.
“If you’re promised a 15-minute interview, and they call at 12:03, don’t let them hang up at 12:15,” he said.
Medill students, known for their work ethic, have a leg up in this field, Snierson said. The importance of doing research on anyone that he interviews, even if it's just looking up their profile and reading other interviews the actor or producer has done, is something he stressed.
“When the person you’re interviewing can tell that you have done your research, it’s almost like unlocking the next level in a video game," Snierson said. "They feel like they can trust you.”
When asked about the purported triviality of entertainment news, Snierson replied with the idea that “they are curators of pop culture.” In the limited time people have to live, he said, why don’t we help people find what shows will make them happy? What shows will be the best use of their time? Snierson added that entertainment reflects the feelings of the surrounding culture, and reporters can question the diversity of actors in Hollywood as part of a larger scale of the world, but through a happier, more accessible and visible lens.
Carolyn Twersky (BSJ18) heard Snierson talk last year and jumped on the opportunity to watch his talk again.
“To me, Entertainment Weekly is the Bible, so I take every chance I get to learn more about the publication,” she said. “Dan Snierson had a great way about him. Not only did he answer the question, but he put it into the context of a past experience. He also was so witty, and he kept the whole audience laughing.”