Home Guide Who Knew? TV Producer Mike Fleiss Was Once a Newspaper Guy

Who Knew? TV Producer Mike Fleiss Was Once a Newspaper Guy

Source: variety.com

“I was a sports writer,” renowned TV producer and Before They Were Stars creator Mike Fleiss mentions. “I went to the University of California, Berkeley and I was the executive editor of The Daily Californian, which is the paper in Berkeley.”

The Daily Californian, or The Daily Cal as it’s known to many, continues to be an independent, student-run newspaper featuring news about the University of California, Berkeley, and its local community. Launched in 1871, it’s one of the oldest college newspapers in the United States.

Mike Fleiss isn’t the only notable Berkeley alumnus with a Daily Cal byline. Before winning a Vogue writing contest that catapulted her career, Joan Didion worked as a Daily Cal staffer in the 1950s. And before he pioneered the iconic Rolling Stone magazine, Jann Wenner was a rock ’n’ roll columnist at The Daily Cal.

Mike Fleiss: The Smartest People Were in the Newsroom

Source: yahoo.com

After turning the tassel, Fleiss had other dreams to chase. “My life goal for the longest time, my dream, dream of unattainable dreams, the impossible dream, was to write for the Portland Oregonian and cover the Trailblazers,” he ruefully recalls. “That was my goal. That’s all I ever wanted and I never got there. I worked [in California] for papers in Sacramento and Oakland and Santa Rosa, but I never got to the Oregonian.”

He did see some success — and excitement — as a sports writer. He found plenty of news fit to print. Fleiss says he enjoyed covering the Sacramento Kings, San Francisco Giants, and the Oakland A’s. One of his most memorable assignments was covering the Earthquake World Series. “I was in the press box for that,” Mike Fleiss says of the third game of the 1989 World Series, during which an earthquake rocked California’s Central Coast.

Fleiss made it through the earthquake and soon realized it wouldn’t be the last time he’d be in a situation where life would get unpredictable — but the rough-and-tumble newsroom taught him lessons that would serve him well as he transitioned from print to TV. He says he was impressed with the people he encountered and found journalism not only to be a highly respectable profession, but a noble one to boot.

“The smartest people I ever knew were the people in the newsroom,” he muses. “They were the best, and they could all write a headline, they could all punctuate, they could all spell.”

Mike Fleiss emphasizes that he noted how seriously the reporters and editors took their jobs

Now, in the current climate of artificial intelligence, where some people rely on bots to construct sentences and have gotten lazy when it comes to proper grammar and fact-checking, he stresses that the reporters of 30 years ago made sure there were no typos because their reputation depended on it.

“People didn’t play fast and loose with that at all,” he recalls. “I remember filing my story at night and then being asleep and bolting up in the middle of the night, flop sweat thinking, ‘Oh my god, did I misspell that guy’s name?’ And then I would wait for the paper to come in the morning and I’d get out there and I’d read it and go, ‘Oh, I did misspell it’ or ‘Thank god I didn’t misspell it.’ And that’s how it was. It was serious business and now it’s just this fast-and-loose garbage.”

But the writing was, as they say, on the wall. As the print media world faded, Mike Fleiss traded his press box seat for a director’s chair and returned to his first love: television.

“I decided to try to go into show business because I was excited by The Howard Stern Show and The Simpsons and stuff like that,” Mike Fleiss shares.