News4 reporter John Schriffen is nothing short of passionate when it comes to his career and the world of journalism. Schriffen sits down with us to elaborate on his transition to news and his move to the nation’s capital:
How did you become interested in a career in journalism?
Back in college I had an internship at ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.” I used to bring my writing samples to Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, the hosts of the show. Tony would always look at me and say “Its good, but it needs to sound more like you.” That’s when I realized I actually have a voice. I graduated from Dartmouth and got my first break on TV as a sports anchor/reporter with News 12 The Bronx. I made my fair share of mistakes and Michael and Tony weren’t around to shield me from my news director, but honestly – it made me tougher. I wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions. That’s what makes a good reporter. My news director decided to put me on both sports and local news and its then that I realized the thrill of breaking a good story and listening to viewers on the street. As cheesy as this may sound, I love helping people by giving them a voice.
You grew up in New York and have now decided to make D.C. your home. Can you tell us what led you to that decision?
I always knew I wanted to come back to DC. It’s here where I cut my teeth as a journalist and learned from some of the best in the business. New York City is home and that’s where I got my break, but when President Obama came to the White House it changed everything. I was called Obama Jr. on the streets of the Bronx more times then I can remember. I think its safe to say that started the countdown to D.C.
What are some of the most interesting stories you’ve covered in your career?
I know it sounds crazy, but I loved covering “Snowmageddon”. I was in D.C. at NBC 4 for less than two months before being thrown in to around-the-clock coverage of the blizzard that paralyzed the region. Oddly enough, it was a great way to meet people. People would randomly walk up to our live truck, whether we were in Bowie, MD or Northern VA, with arms full of food and hot drinks. I had never seen hospitality like this in my life. Talk about a warm welcome!
On a more serious note, the emotional stories that came out of Haiti after the catastrophic earthquake are some I will never forget. Days after it struck, I talked to local Haitian families who were frantically looking for their loved ones. One family from Northern V.A. sticks out in my mind. They were going through the process of adopting a Haitian baby when the disaster wiped out all their paperwork. Thankfully the story did have a happy ending. The family was reunited with their baby at Dulles Airport in a moment that we were able capture for them forever.
Where are your favorite places to go in the District?
Anyone who knows me knows I like good food. Kitchen on Wisconsin Ave. is one of my favorite spots for some good comfort food. Their chicken mac and cheese is to die for. For a night out, I like Tabaq on U St. Its a great scene with incredible views and delicious food. For Sunday brunch with some friends, it has to be Peacock Cafe in Georgetown. I’m a huge golfer and to be able to play in the heart of D.C. is a treat. Langston Golf Course in N.E. near RFK stadium is my regular weekend getaway. Its a historic course where there is always someone sitting around looking to talk golf. I also love to read. I live near Politics and Prose on Connecticut Ave. N.W. which is more than just a book store. Every month I grab their calendar to see what guest speakers they’ll have in next.
What do you see yourself doing over the next ten years?
A mentor once told me “Choose your career based on what you love, not for the money.” Journalism is in my blood. If I’m lucky, this is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.