Domenico Montanaro, a 2001 UD graduate, directs political coverage across National Public Radio’s broadcast and digital platforms. Montanaro credits his writing and editing experience at UD’s student-run newspaper, The Review, as laying the foundation for his journalism career. He served stints as sports managing editor and on the student affairs desk while working about 50 hours a week and amassing more than 300 clips. In December, we chatted with Montanaro about his career, the presidential election and Joe Biden.
Who at UD would you credit with being a big influence?
I took my intro journalism course with Dr. Harris Ross. I just fell in love with journalism. I took Bill Fleischman’s sports writing and copy editing courses and he continued to advise me. And later in my college career, Ralph Begleiter was a huge influence. I was in his first Road to the Presidency class. He is a big reason why I took political journalism.
You worked at PBS NewsHour and a few networks before joining NPR in 2015.
Yes. NPR is a legacy organization that had done great radio for a long time, but they wanted to give it a strong digital footprint. We had a chance to do that and reshape how we were going to cover the election.
You’ve covered several presidential elections. How do you compare 2016 to the others?
This one was much more intense. You had two candidates who were perceived to be not very well liked, which wasn’t the case in 2008 and 2012 with Mitt Romney and John McCain. Certainly, they adhered to more norms than Donald Trump ever did. The word “unprecedented” was used more in this election than for anything else ever before. The innuendo, the insults—it wasn’t like anything you had ever heard before. So much of what we built our foundations on, as far as Republicans and Democrats, was thrown out the window this time.
How has the popularity of social media changed the way you do your job?
In 2006-2007, you’d have to follow the wires to see what was coming through. Now, if you curate your Twitter feed correctly, you get all the headlines you need. It helps with engagement with an audience and immediate feedback. I think it’s been problematic in some areas where you see a lot of anonymous harassment of people. But I think that’s the new world. Donald Trump has been able to use Twitter to his advantage to get around the media.
What do you think of Joe Biden?
I have a real soft spot for Joe Biden. I just like his frankness and his warmth. He was a good balance for Barack Obama. His deep ties to the Senate, in a bipartisan way, really helped President Obama. He’ll go down in history as a very consequential vice president who helped President Obama get some of his legislative agenda items through.