Q & A: Journalist, Author, Former Presidential Advisor Barry Jagoda & Susan J. Farese, SJF Communications

Barry Jagoda – Courtesy Photo

It’s such a pleasure to introduce our esteemed SJF Communications client, Author, Journalist, PR professional as well as Media Advisor to former President Jimmy Carter. Barry’s new memoir is Journeys With Jimmy Carter and Other Adventures in Media, published by Koehler Books. Here is information, including details to purchase the book from our previous 12/7/2020 post: https://sjfcommunications.com/2020/12/07/memoir-by-award-winning-journalist-presidential-advisor-barry-jagoda/

Q & A – Barry Jagoda and Susan J. Farese

SJF: Why/How did you decide to write Journeys with Jimmy Carter and Other Adventures in Media?

BJ: People kept asking me, after I mentioned that I was retired, “what do you do or what did you?”  I always answered, “I’m a writer”.  Many would follow with “What have you written?”  

I had been toying with a few paragraphs, so then I started saying, “I’m semi-retired, working on a memoir.”

Here is an example of letting imagination be partly driven by external forces.  These fans of Jimmy Carter and Walter Cronkite, though dying off, provided a platform for my story. I didn’t mean to be at the center of American political and cultural life but a journalist can have that serendipity.

If you have modern information technology and talented colleagues, a first draft of your story can be whipped up in about two years including finding a solid publisher with a stable of intelligent editors and designers.  Subsequent drafts will benefit from trusted advance readers, including some who think the completed final first draft needs more substance, except for the brilliant energy-oriented lawyer who noted a lack of rigor—He said the book could be divided into three parts:  an analysis of the Carter Presidency, a study of modern telecommunications policy & the Presidency and my friends and others I had encountered.  Though not denying my right to name names, he was quite obviously miffed at being left out. Go back to the drawing board!, he counseled.

SJF: Did you make any personal discoveries (or aha! moments) while writing your memoir? If so, please explain.

BJ: While writing, the concept of “flow” seemed to kick in as I was very comfortable remembering earlier life-episodes.  In fact, one post-publication reader asked if I had used a “diary” with notes because details seemed to flow as I wrote.  This discovery of useful memory was a pleasant surprise.

SJF: How did you decide on the title and decide to find a publishing company vs. self-publishing?? 

BJ: As loyal readers will attest, here is the book and I take full responsibility for factual errors.  The solid publisher, John Koehler, wanted to use the Carter cover in part for marketing.  I had no better idea.

SJF: Tell us about your background in the media and in politics

BJ: After graduate school (M.S., Journalism, Graduate School, Columbia University), I was hired as an Intern/Writer at NBC News and after a few months in the Newsroom at NYC Headquarters was assigned as Writer/Editor in Washington, DC.  Their top stars, such as David Brinkley and Nancy Dickerson would present their copy for radio news (“hourlies) and television inserts.  Left their own styles but occasionally did find factual errors which they were always glad to correct.  During this period was often assigned as field producer at Capitol Hill gallery and back-up at other news making locations in DC.  After accepting an overnight assignment monitoring audio feeds from NASA early Apollo Program came to attention of CBS news team covering moon landing effort and was hired as Associate Producer there.  Subsequently became Producer (for Walter Cronkite) in coverage of Apollo 11.  After ten years in broadcast journalism was asked by Jimmy Carter to help as Television Advisor in his nascent presidential campaign.

Barry Jagoda with President Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office – Courtesy Photo – Barry Jagoda

SJF: Tell us about your role in politics as Presidential media advisor

BJ: Carter wanted help understanding role of TV in presidential nominating politics and general election, though he was not interested in someone who would change his style and manner of presentation.  After I said I would only advise him of effect of his words on news coverage, by networks and major print publications, he said I could be helpful and told senior media advisor, Jody Powell, to invite me aboard the campaign.  After the successful election of 1976 I was named Special Assistant to the President, serving in the White House focusing on media and cultural relations.  Eventually I had a philosophical difference with top campaign advisors (including powerful candidate spouse, Rosalynn Carter) who thought my work was giving Carter “overexposure” instead of focusing on a few cardinal issues.  Moving to the National Security Council, I served there for seven months, but did not participate in Carter’s 1980 unsuccessful re-election campaign.

SJF: Tell us about your upbringing, geographically, personally etc.

BJ: My parents, both immigrants from Eastern Europe (part of the massive inflow between 1880 and 1920) were hard working and successful.  Mother, who spoke no English upon arrival in USA from Ukraine, quickly mastered elementary and secondary education and went on to receive a medical degree (pediatric chiropody) from Case/Western Reserve University.  Father, a serial entrepreneur, had a grocery business in affluent part of otherwise industrial Youngstown, Ohio.  After being forced to move to warmer climes (first Phoenix, then Houston) he started small markets catering to shift workers from emerging petrochemical plants.  They settled in post-WWII GI bungalows near stores.  Eventually parents moved to districts of Houston where schooling was an improvement.  This had a profound effect on me, as I moved forward with classmates in journalism and debate at one of Houston’s top high schools, Bellaire.  For college, though accepted at some top private universities, enrolled at cost-effective University of Texas.

Karen and Barry Jagoda – Courtesy Photo

SJF:  If you had to write the book over again, would you change anything?

BJ: A re-written book might include more information on differences between legitimate media and fake expressions, particularly in an election year. Thus, I would try to provide more analysis of difference between legitimate media and fake social media, especially from my experience and perspective from years of work in journalism and, more recently, in use of legitimate social media.

SJF:  A brief history of your education, media and political positions/teaching appointments published articles, etc.

BJ: After graduate school, I was hired by NBC News, then CBS News to cover science and politics of moon landing.  This evolved into coverage of the Watergate scandals for which I shared in an Emmy Award.

SJF: What are your personal pastimes/hobbies/interests/passions?

BJ: When I have a chance to relax, I enjoy the sports of golf and squash racquets.

SJF: Anything you’d like to mention about Watergate? Kennedy in Texas? Apollo? Emmy award?

BJ: From my memoir one can see a photo of the Emmy Award, press credentials for President Kennedy’s fatal trip to Texas in 1963 and photos signed by Apollo astronauts reflecting on my coverage of those events.

SJF:  Where can we find you on the web? Website, social media etc.

BJ: I maintain a website (BarryJagoda.com) where those photos are easily accessible.  Less useful for my expression is the Twitter account and the Linked-In that are available in my name.  The best way I communicate with others is through email, where I am readily available via <Barry@barryjagoda.com>.

SJF: Any recommendations for us to journal or document what we are going through with Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic? Stress management tools? 

BJ: When I anticipate a sense of stress or anxiety upcoming (mainly due to the Covid-19 Pandemic) I find “breathing exercise” to be a regular source of relief.

SJF:  How has the Covid-19 affected you personally/professionally?

BJ: The Pandemic has forced me to be very careful about meeting with or encountering others without following the recommended tools of mask wearing, social distancing and trying to stay at home as much as possible.

SJF:  Role models or persons that inspire you in your life?

BJ: I am reminded about these safety measures—and other common-sense applications—by my spouse, Karen Jagoda, who is a role model and an inspiration.

SJF:  Favorite quotes?

BJ: At some point I favored the expression “practice makes perfect,” but in maturity I have chosen a variation, “practice makes improvement.”  A short way of pointing to the inspiration I’ve had from Karen is by attention to the words in dedication to her of this book: “If you want to go quickly, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”

SJF:  Who would you like to have lunch or dinner with to discuss your book?

BJ: In addition to a long lunch to discuss the memoir with President and Mrs. Carter, it would be useful to compare notes with Professor Douglas Brinkley and other scholars who have given serious thought to their lives, including accomplishments and shortcomings.

SJF:  Life hurdles? Successes?

BJ: After formal education I realized my shortcomings in mathematics and computational sciences, but was gratified to have gained skills in public speaking and general social interaction.

SJF:  Three significant/pivotal moments in your life?

BJ: My parents favored extreme “left-wing” social change and when I realized that often brought more trouble than success, I became more moderate in political opinion.  After choosing journalism as a career approach I left behind advocacy but later, pivotally, realized one could combine fact seeking with moderate political expression.

SJF: Fears?

BJ: I fear unchecked governmental power and, simultaneously I worry about a failure to use the levers of government to seek improvement in the general human condition. 

SJF:  Recurring dreams/ Usual dreams?

BJ: From time-to-time I worry about human catastrophes, such as earth quakes, and a general failure to act in ways that will modify the harmful effects of climate change.  The weakness of humanity to observe and address problems sometimes leads me to have nightmares, mostly overcome in a startling awaking.

SJF: Strongest asset? What would you like to work on/improve?

BJ: I am a good listener but would like to improve on that trait.  And, moving too fast—simulating the speed of light—makes one see less brightly!

SJF:  Where/How do you ‘give back’ to your community/communities?

BJ: Though I try to see how I can give back to my fellows, and to the general community, this is an area that requires concentration and improvement. 

SJF: Any regrets in life?

BJ: Being readily more selfless by focusing on helping my fellow man is a real shortcoming that, I try to remind myself, needs focus and hard work.

SJF: What qualities should the younger generations aspire to that you think are important in this day and age?

BJ: The younger generation seems even more self-oriented that my own group of “baby boomers” and pre-boomers.

SJF: Funny/humorous (appropriate) stories in media or politics?

BJ: The book, Presidential Campaigns, by Professor Paul F. Boller cites hundreds of laugh-filled moments in politics, including several where I am the butt of the situation.  I heartily recommend this volume for many hours of humor.

SJF: How do you handle loss?

BJ: Loss is often the result of misfortune and, therefore, should not be taken personally, though this awareness may only mitigate the pain.

SJF:  Where have you traveled and where would you like to travel once Covid-19 is OVER???

BJ:  I have traveled the world as a journalist and political assistant, including having more than just a passing stop or two.  Longer stays, of course, always been more informative and rewarding.  These days, while desk bound by the Pandemic, I think of going back to some places I’ve enjoyed the most—particularly the Hawaiian Islands and the Adriatic coast and islands—but to more intriguing locations including Madagascar and New Zealand.  Having the responsibility to share in the caring of a very active canine, a Mini Schnauzer named Timothy, is probably as much of a snag for travel as anything else.

SJF: What has been the most valuable lesson in your life?

BJ: The most valuable lesson I’ve had would be learning to appreciate the many qualities that others can bring when and where I frequently fall short.

SJF: Many thanks Barry, such a pleasure to learn more about you.

Book Details:
Journeys With Jimmy Carter and Other Adventures in Media

The book is available at Amazon and wherever books are sold:

Paperback: ISBN-10: 1646630319; ISBN-13 : 978-1646630318

Hardcover: ISBN-10: 1646630335  ISBN-13 : 978-1646630332

eBook ISBN: 978-1-64663-032-5

More information:

Barry Jagoda : 
barryjagoda.com Email: barry@barryjagoda.com Ph: 858-688-1025

Media Contact:
Susan J. Farese,SJFCommunications – sjfcommunications@gmail.com Ph: 408-398-5940

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