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Celebrated Food Writer Speaks with Narrative Journalism Students

Last Tuesday evening, the budding reporters in English teacher David Warshawski’s narrative journalism classes met virtually with Amy Drew Thompson, an award-winning multi-media food reporter for the Orlando Sentinel. Ms. Drew Thompson’s work has appeared in prominent publications such as The New York Times, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times. After a brief introduction from Mr. Warshawski, students took the rest of the time to speak with Ms. Drew Thompson about the trajectory of her career, her personal experiences as a journalist and the industry as a whole.  

Student Sydney B. led off the discussion, asking Ms. Drew Thompson, “How did you know that you wanted to become a journalist?” Ms. Drew Thompson explained that as part of an expository writing class in college she submitted an op-ed piece to The New York Times that, to her surprise, was actually bought and published. This gratifying experience gave her the impetus she needed to pursue journalism. Describing the aspects of her work that have allowed her to succeed in such a competitive industry, Ms. Drew Thompson imparted some key words of advice to the narrative journalism students, saying, “The first thing you have to learn about writing is how to be edited.” She continued on to explain the necessity of maintaining good relationships with your subjects and peer journalists, and helped students understand that every publication is different. “You have to learn the rhythm of the paper,” she said. 

Having worn many hats as a journalist, she told the students what she loves about the accessible and universal nature of culinary journalism: “With food writing, it’s all personal because it’s something we all share. . . . We all have to eat, so there’s always common ground, and therefore it always feels personal.” Wrapping up the conversation, Ms. Drew Thompson gave one last piece of journalistic wisdom. “I have people disagree with me all the time, and they’re more than welcome to do that,” she said jovially. “It’s great to have a dialogue with your readers.”

A huge thank you to Ms. Drew Thompson for taking the time to share her wisdom with the next generation of CGPS journalists! You can check out the conversation here.

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