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Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

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Pulitzer prize winner Eric Schmitt’s unexpected start in journalism at Redwood

Posing for a photo, Eric Schmitt (left) and his fellow editor-in-chief, Marc Tognotti, sit together in the Redwood Bark classroom in 1978. (Photo courtesy of the Redwood Log)

Redwood alumni Eric Schmitt has been a journalist at The New York Times for the last 40 years and has received countless awards for his outstanding work on international affairs, but Schmitt’s journey to journalistic fame began right at Redwood during his time on the staff of the Redwood Bark.

Schmitt, a 1978 Redwood graduate, never envisioned a future in journalism until he discovered that the Redwood Bark was the only class he could take to fulfill his missing English requirement. He had always enjoyed the creative writing classes he had taken as an underclassman and thought the newspaper would cramp his style, but this unexpected change in his schedule would kick off his future career. 

“[The Bark] was a great place to help organize my thoughts and learn how to write all kinds of stories. [I was able to] work with a great group of people, some of whom are still my closest friends today,” Schmitt said.

Graduating from Redwood in 1978, Eric Schmitt smiles for his senior yearbook photo. (Photo courtesy of the Redwood Log)

Donal Brown taught at Redwood for 33 years and met Schmitt when he was a student. Brown influenced Schmitt’s career, serving as his advisor and role model in the Bark. Schmitt credits Brown with helping him develop his interest in and pursuit of journalism.

“[Brown] made a lasting impact on setting me on my way to becoming a journalist through his teaching style,” Schmitt said. 

Brown knew Schmitt was a talented journalist with a strong future ahead of him.

“[Schmitt] was serious and dedicated to journalism. He was very sharp and efficient about everything,” Brown said. “He didn’t want to do anything [in school] except write for the Bark.”

After graduating from Redwood, Schmitt attended Williams College, a small liberal arts school in Massachusetts. There, he pursued a major in political science, leading to his focus on politics in future articles. Towards the end of his college career, Schmitt lived in Madrid, Spain, to have an out-of-country reporting experience. The exposure from his semester abroad led to his passion for international reporting. After graduating in 1982, Schmitt received a job at the Tri-City Herald. A year later, he moved to The New York Times and hasn’t turned back since.

While working at The New York Times, Schmitt became a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner, an award given by Columbia University for achievements in journalism and music. Along with his journalistic feats, Schmitt and fellow New York Times journalist John Smith wrote The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda, a historical novel about a group of military analysts working to fight terrorism.

Having begun his career in journalism at a young age, Schmitt encourages young writers to pursue topics they are passionate about.

 “Write about what you know and have experienced. Then see what works for you,” Schmitt said. “You don’t really know what kind of writing is going to interest you the most. Whatever subject connects with you the most should be pursued.” 

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About the Contributors
Scarlett Musgrove
Scarlett Musgrove is a sophomore and a cub reporter for the nonfiction class. She enjoys listening to music and in her free time she loves to spend time in the sun and at the beach.
Leighton Olsen
Leighton Olsen is a sophomore and cub reporter for the nonfiction class. He enjoys playing volleyball and wakeboard in his free time.