I’m always interested in what makes a writer tick – what motivates him or her to engage in a subject. It’s fascinating to watch the niche topics that grip individuals.
Some of them are actually important.
A recent book review of Katie Pavlich’s “Fast & Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up” reminded me of this, big time. Pavlich, news editor for Townhall, has her own unique story. I caught up with her recently to discuss why she does what she does –and how.
“I never thought I would be a so-called ‘writer,’” she explained during a break in one of her routinely busy days. “It’s something I’ve gotten into and enjoy. It’s something that gives me that platform to get things out there I think are important.”
From her perch at the influential news site, Pavlich couldn’t have imagined early on that she’d wind up writing about the things that come across her desk.
“Initially, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, although sports journalism was appealing,” Pavlich said. “I then did an internship with [Sen.] John Kyl.”
She said she’d never thought about a journalism career in Washington until that moment. She moved to D.C. and “jumped in with two feet.”
She’s become so busy – and, may I say, so successful – that it’s changed her life.
“Last week I had to force myself to go on vacation;” she said, “if you’re going to get away from it you have to do that.”
And what is that crazy regular schedule like?
“It varies day to day,” she confessed. “One day it’s blogging, and the next day a magazine feature. I do research in the morning, then write until 5 or 6.”
A book is a different animal, no?
“In terms of a book, it was a little overwhelming,” she recalls of the pace necessary to produce “Fast & Furious.”
The real work began in November, and her deadline for turning in the manuscript was Jan. 31.
“I was flying the country covering the GOP primary, then I went home and locked myself in my room,” she said. “I wrote 40,000 words quickly.”
As for her Townhall schedule, again, the writing styles and emphases make for an interesting week. Pavlich has honed her craft by learning different media; somewhere, Ben Hecht is dizzy.
“I do a lot of blogging,” Pavlich says. “Some of the stories I write are longer than others. Sometimes I post a video and that tells the story.
On the investigative side, I look at what’s out there and look to see if all the dots are being connected.”
Ah, a key skill of a real journalist. Many writers like to concentrate on only one thing; Katie Pavlich’s success is from multi-tasking and being darned good at all of it. It was interesting to hear her take on different writing genres.
“With the book, in the age of the 24/7 news cycle, it’s taking the headlines and piecing them together like a puzzle,” she explained. “In a blog or magazine feature, it’s connecting the dots.”
Her “Fast & Furious” project is one of those that is so … gutsy … I wondered about the backlash from “friends of the administration.”
Pavlich is willing to take the heat: “I don’t know if the book had the impact in making them realize … I don’t think I deserve that credit, but I do think it helps in the sense that the White House knew it was going to be a problem.”
You can bet David Axelrod knows who Katie Pavlich is.
She also recognizes one of the key reasons she was able to write so fast when it came time to lock her door and throw away the key: “I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I hadn’t been in the story for a year.”
The success of her book, and her willingness to pursue truth, has opened up other possibilities.
“Sources are a little more open now. I spent a lot of time on the ground in Arizona,” she said. “Whistleblowers have faced so much retaliation and legal consequences. Before, it was difficult to find sources on and off the record, but now they’re more open.”
The nation is better off for it. Katie Pavlich the whistleblower is an example of the kind of journalism a free nation must have to remain that way.