The CN: What were you involved in during your time at John Carroll?
Gaffney: Mostly newspaper. That was the main thing that I spent a lot of my time on.
The CN: And were you Editor in Chief?
Gaffney: Yeah, my senior year.
The CN: What was your major?
Gaffney: I majored in political science and then I minored in communication, so a little different than most of the other guys who have it.
The CN: Did you always know that you wanted to go into political journalism?
Gaffney: Yeah, at least since I was in college. I got involved in my high school newspaper and really liked that and kind of made that what I wanted to go into. I kind of knew what I wanted to major in right when I started and knew that I wanted to join the school newspaper there.
The CN: How did you react when you found out you received the fellowship?
Gaffney: I was really surprised. I was up against very qualified people my year, so I knew any one of us could get it. I was very hopeful that I would get it, but I didn’t think that I would. I was just really excited when I got the call from Betsy [Fischer]. She was the executive producer at the time. So I knew that I had gotten it, so I was shocked and excited.
The CN: What was your first day like at “Meet the Press?”
Gaffney: Oh, goodness. I mean, it was good, it was kind of just getting acquainted with the staff and getting to know the building that we’d be working in and everything. It was kind of a crazy time for me because I had just moved to Washington, D.C. the day before, so it was a quick turnaround. It was just really exciting. I was so excited to be there and to be a part of the show, and just kind of excited to get involved and looking forward to everything I would get to be a part of in the next nine months.
The CN: What’s your most memorable moment during your time at “Meet the Press?”
Gaffney: I’ve gotten to help out with a lot of really exciting things that I never thought I would get to. I got to help with NBC’s coverage of the State of the Union that year, which was amazing. Also, we did an interview with Speaker Boehner one week, and I got to help out and go; they did it at the Speaker’s office down at Capitol Hill. So I got to go and see how they set up the field shoot like that and just kind of getting to be down there was an awesome experience. And, of course, getting to be a part of the show every week and seeing what goes on behind the scenes; there’s so many people working on it, it’s hard to imagine before you get to be in that setting.
The CN: What’s the most important thing that you learned during the fellowship?
Gaffney: Just kind of what goes into making a weekly show, you know, the research and work that the staff does. Before that Sunday comes around, as well as all of the moving parts that are happening during the show, until you get to see that part of it, it’s kind of an incredible feat, the way that the whole staff comes together and makes the show happen every day or every week at “Meet the Press.”
The CN: Did you receive any memorable advice during your time there?
Gaffney: Nothing sticks in my memory. Everybody was great, in terms of all of the producers there, helping me find my next job after my fellowship ended. They were all really great advising me to take advantage of every opportunity.
The CN: How would your life be different if you hadn’t gotten the fellowship?
Gaffney: Well, I definitely don’t think that I would get to live in Washington, D.C., and I don’t think that I’d be working at a network, and I think that’s something that I never would have imagined that I would get to do so soon after graduating. So it definitely provided a lot of opportunities that I really don’t think would have happened otherwise.
The CN: So what are you up to now? Are you still with NBC?
Gaffney: Yeah, I’m still working at the network bureau here in D.C., so I’m in the same building as “Meet the Press.” It’s just a different wing now.
The CN: What’s your job now?
Gaffney: Each bureau has what they call the Desk Assistant Program, so it’s kind of like an entry level thing. You get to do all kinds of different rotations, getting to see every part of how a network bureau operates, which is an awesome experience. I never would have had it if it weren’t for “Meet the Press.”
The CN: What advice do you have for future applicants for the Meet the Press fellowship?
Gaffney: Definitely get involved in the newspaper. I think that really helps build a solid journalistic foundation for people. But also definitely make sure to pay attention to what’s happening around you, what’s happening in the news. I think that definitely helps out. In a situation where you’re being interviewed, just be yourself and come prepared and everything, and I think if you work hard enough that’ll really pay off.