Michael Goodwin, chief political columnist for the New York Post, spent the past two weeks teaching a jour­nalism class as this semes­ter’s Pulliam Fellow. JULIA MULLINS | COURTESY

Michael Goodwin is the chief political columnist for the New York Post and a regular con­tributor to Fox News and Fox Business. Before joining the Post in 2009, he was the political columnist for the New York Daily News. Prior to that, he worked for the New York Times for 16 years. Goodwin is the Dow Jour­nalism Program’s Fall 2019 Pulliam Fellow.

Did you write for your high school or college news­paper?

That’s a great question. I did not. But, the most important person in my writing career was my senior high school English teacher, a woman named Mrs. Novak. She used to make us write every day in class, and I fell in love with writing. Years later, when I got to be a reporter at the New York Times,  she used to write to me and correct my articles. She was absolutely bril­liant about the English lan­guage. 

What did you learn from working in the Morgue of the New York Times that helped you in your writing career?

Being around jour­nalism, reading the paper, seeing what the reporters were doing, talking to them, getting to know some of them made me feel like I was becoming part of this orga­ni­zation and that was encour­aging. 

What have been your favorite pieces to write?

I was just grateful to be writing in the beginning. I would write about any­thing. My first front page story in the NYT was about the weather. And I was heart­broken. Someone said to me, “It’s what people care about most. That’s why it’s on the front page!” And I learned a lesson from that. It’s not about me, it’s about the reader. I really enjoyed writing about sports. Not the games, I don’t think I ever had a final score in any of my stories, it was all about the business, about the scandals. 

Do you have any advice for stu­dents who want to break into the jour­nalism world? 

Do it. Go for it. Because if you can master the skills of writing, inter­viewing, talking, and thinking on deadline, these are the fun­da­mental skills. Clear thinking, clear writing. Whatever mediums exist in the future, those skills will always be in demand and make you rel­evant and able to function. Expe­rience breeds skill. It’s not a talent. I don’t think it’s God given. It’s some­thing you learn. 

Were you always inter­ested in current events?

I was very inter­ested in current events. I always had an appre­ci­ation of gov­ernment and the impor­tance of it. And I have enjoyed writing about pol­itics for a very long time. I actually admire politi­cians. First of all, I think you cannot cover any­thing if you hate it. You can’t be a sports writer if you hate sports. You can’t write about pol­itics if you hate politi­cians. I mean it’s not right, it’s not fair to them, and it’s not fair to the reader. You won’t do a good job at it. It’s good to write about the things you like, the things you care about. If you don’t like the subject that disdain will come through and it will not make your writing inter­esting to read. What will the reader get out of you sneering all the time? But if you enjoy it, think about what the reader will get out of that. 

How has your expe­rience been teaching here at Hillsdale this past week?

I am really enjoying the stu­dents. I think they’re sharp, on the ball, they care, they’re earnest, and they’re serious about their work. I hope people are having fun, too!