My Curiosity Drove Me to Be a Reporter

Meet the hell-raising Mother Jones fellows who keep us accurate and fresh.

Every six months, Mother Jones welcomes a new class of up-and-coming journalists to learn the craft of investigative reporting through a rigorous fact-checking program. It’s not easy for fellows to balance helping Mother Jones staffers fact check articles while developing their own news stories, but our new class is up to the challenge. Meet one of our Ben Bagdikian editorial fellows, Matt Tinoco:

Name: Matt Tinoco

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Education: University of Southern California

How did you get into journalism? It’s an extension of my natural curiosity. I’ve always wondered about the forces and rules that built the world around me, and journalism gives me the chance to learn more about how those forces and rules interact in real life. I started writing for my high school’s newspaper with an opinion column, mostly because 15-year-old me was frustrated with how the world didn’t seem to be working as well as it could.

Why is being a journalist important? Ultimately, I’m most interested in doing public service journalism. This is especially important in the United States right now, where I feel there is a major lapse in the news industry’s ability to produce original reporting. The press serves a crucial role. It’s the job of journalists to equip the public with facts so they can to keep the powerful in check. Though I’ve certainly produced original reporting that I’m proud of, there is always more learn and more to do.

“I’ve always wondered about the forces and rules that have built the world around me, and journalism allows me a chance to learn more about how those forces and rules interact in real life.”

What got you reading Mother Jones? Mother Jones does good investigative work. I think I picked up a copy of the magazine about a year ago and just started reading. There was an OutFront (Mother Jones magazine’s front-of-the-book section) written by one of my favorite reporters, Charlie LeDuff, about the Flint water crisis. I‘ve been hooked ever since.

What’s one thing you’re excited about doing at Mother Jones? I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to work on some serious enterprise investigative journalism.

What are you excited to do now that you live in the Bay Area? I love riding my bike—a good week is 16 hours in the saddle, so I’m looking forward to exploring. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to get around using bike lanes here.

What’s one song you can’t get out of your head? “Lonely World” by Moses Sumney. Sumney is an incredible artist, and he’s at the very beginning of his career.

One TV show we must watch now? Party Down was a short lived STARZ series about a group of failed creatives in LA who work for a catering company. It’s a dry comedy that’s something like a mix of Arrested Development and Peep Show.

An article that changed the way you thought/has inspired you? “When A 10 year-old Kills His Nazi Father, Who’s To Blame?” by Natasha Vargas-Cooper, is about a kid who shot and killed his abusive neo-Nazi dad. Vargas-Cooper does a masterful job of weaving the complicated narrative of far-right ideology, child abuse, and government incompetence together into a sad, gripping story about a child who will carry this trauma with him for the rest of his life.

Each week, we’ll bring you a new profile of our fellows. Check our Medium page for more.

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