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Kai Ryssdal opens Excellence in Journalism 2013 with candid conversation about public radio



Scott Leadingham, SPJ Director of Education, 31-927-8000 ext. 211, sleadingham@spj.org
Ellen Kobe, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-927-8000 ext. 205, ekobe@spj.org

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Kai Ryssdal, host and senior editor of “Marketplace,” opened Excellence in Journalism 2013 Saturday evening with a candid conversation about his occupation — hosting a business and economics show that appeals to a wide range group of people.

The Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio Television Digital News Association and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists co-host the Excellence in Journalism conference from Aug. 24 to 26, offering training, networking and recruiting opportunities for journalists, educators and news organizations.

During this conversation, Ryssdal, typically the one who interviews sources, was interviewed by Vincent Duffy, RTDNA chairman and news director at Michigan Radio. Duffy and the audience asked Ryssdal questions that ran the gamut — from why “Martketplace” started in the West Coast to his daily routine (it includes a 5 a.m. run and brushing his teeth before every show).

Ryssdal noted that his most important role as an economics reporter is making the material both informative and comprehensible for his listeners.

“We work hard to make sure we’re accessible — that my mom can understand us and that Wall Street traders can as well,” Ryssdal said. Ryssal has been the host of “Marketplace,” American Public Media’s business and economy program, since 2005. He joined American Public Media in 2001 as host of “Morning Marketplace Report.”

Ryssdal’s career is atypical of many journalists of his stature. Upon graduating from Emory University, he spent eight years in the U.S. Navy. He was also a member of the United States Foreign Service abroad. It was when he was working minimum wage at a Borders bookstore that he stumbled upon the contact information in a book that got him a job in public radio in San Francisco.

Ryssdal admits that he came from humble beginnings. And he maintains them, stating that as a journalist, he is never the expert on the subject on which he’s reporting.

“As soon as a journalist begins to think he or she is the expert, he or she is lost,” he said.

There was still room for Ryssdal to give advice to his fellow journalists in the room — including how to run a productive morning news meeting, how to critique your own performance and more.

“For journalists today, if you’re not thinking digital, multi-platform, you’re doing it wrong, and you’re doomed,” he said.

And finally, he summed up the future of journalism in just five words: scary, promising, essential, dynamic and worthwhile.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information on SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.

RTDNA is the world's largest professional organization exclusively serving the electronic news profession, consisting of more than 3,000 news directors, news associates, educators and students. Founded as a grassroots organization in 1946, the association is dedicated to setting standards for newsgathering and reporting. Learn more about RTDNA at www.rtdna.org.

NAHJ is dedicated to the recognition and professional advancement of Hispanics in the news industry. Established in April 1984, NAHJ created a national voice and unified vision for all Hispanic journalists. Learn more about NAHJ at nahj.org.


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