Michael Mooney Presents On Journalism, Feature Writing

March 12, 2020

Michael Mooney, a New York bestselling author and writer for well-known magazines, presented on Feb. 21 during the Literary Festival workshops. 

During his presentation, Mooney went into detail about his background and how he became a journalist and author. Mooney was born in Grapevine, Texas and during his high school years he did not know what path he wanted to take. He ended up going to the University of Texas to study journalism.

Having a major in journalism, Mooney was able to land an internship with the Dallas Morning News, where he realized that newspapers did not have the writing style he connected with. The newspaper scene did not allow him to write about interesting public figures, something that is important to Mooney.

“I realized the newspaper business was a terrible place for me,” Mooney said during his presentation. 

With this realization Mooney decided to try his hand in magazine writing. Mooney has written for magazines like Texas Monthly, D-Magazine and GQ. He enjoyed writing about weird and interesting stories. 

Mooney went into detail about how a story should be focused around an interesting person. Mooney also said that he loved the process of discovering information about whatever curious subject he was researching. 

“I like learning about what makes people tick,” Mooney said. 

Mooney won The Best American Crime Reporting award in 2009 for his D-Magazine story, “The Day Kennedy Died.” In the same month he won The Best American Sports Writing Award for “Royal Flush,” which is about professional and amatuer poker players in Florida, and was also published in D-Magazine. 

In Mooney’s presentation he discussed how respect is the most important factor in journalism. For Mooney, the key to writing about people is going into the story with an open mind and with no assumptions or opinions. 

To wrap up his presentation, Mooney had the students partake in an exercise. Students would write down public figures that had different political or social beliefs than them. This was meant to encourage discussion on why these people acted how they did, helping students see things from a different perspective. 

Mooney emphasized as the final takeaway how everyone is worth dignity and respect and that stories start with an interesting character. 

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