This week, another fabulous TFAS alumna joins us on the Liberty + Leadership Podcast: managing editor of The Police Tribune and former star of TLC’s Wedding Island, Sandy Malone ’96. In this week’s episode, Roger and Sandy discuss how media coverage of law enforcement has changed over the years and Sandy’s wild adventures filming her TLC reality show, which followed her wedding planning business in Vieques, Puerto Rico. The Liberty + Leadership Podcast is hosted by TFAS President Roger Ream and produced by kglobal. If you have a comment or question for the show, please drop us an email at podcast@TFAS.org.
The transcript below is lightly edited for clarity.
Michelle Le [00:00:00] This is Michelle Le, vice president of International and Continuing Education Programs at The Fund for American Studies. I participated in two TFAS programs in Washington, D.C., and in Prague. You’re listening to the Liberty + Leadership Podcast.
Roger Ream [00:00:16] Hello and welcome. I’m Roger Ream and this is the Liberty + Leadership Podcast, a conversation with TFAS alumni who are making a real impact in politics, public policy, government, business, philanthropy, law and the media. Today, I’m excited to be joined by Sandy Malone. Sandy has followed a unique path since her time with TFAS as the creator and owner of a prominent wedding planning company. Sandy and her team starred on Wedding Island, a TLC-produced reality show about the everyday tasks and troubles involved with running a wedding planning business on the island of Vieques. Sandy currently reports for the Police Tribune, a news organization dedicated to sharing stories that are not biased against law enforcement officers. Sandy has a long history of advocacy for law enforcement personnel and public safety. While living and operating a business on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, Sandy led a nonprofit, Vieques Against Crime, dedicated to reducing crime and increasing communication and collaboration between civilians and law enforcement agencies. Sandy is a model example of a well-rounded career that an experience with TFAS leads to, and I’m excited to discuss the lessons she’s learned on liberty and leadership throughout her career. Sandy, thanks for joining me.
Sandy Malone [00:01:45] Thank you for inviting me to participate.
Roger Ream [00:01:48] Well, I’m looking forward to this because I know it will be fun! Whenever you come back to TFAS for programs, you always bring so much energy and passion into the room, and I’m sure it’ll be demonstrated today as we talk a little bit about your successful career and your life since TFAS.
Sandy Malone [00:02:09] Well everything that happened in my career was a result of my opportunities that I had from being a part of The Fund for American Studies, and specifically the Institute on Political Journalism. I graduated from Ohio State, and I actually did the program immediately after I graduated, and I learned amazing things. I learned about the balance of trade and things that were never really discussed in the economics courses that I took as an undergraduate. I got an amazing perspective from Dr. High, and my friends and I still quote things that he taught us in class. I’m still friends with the girls that I roomed with at Georgetown back then. Three of the four of us went into journalism and one went on to get a law degree. It’s really an amazing thing. But The Fund for American Studies got me an internship at Campaigns and Elections magazine, which has since been bought by Congressional Quarterly. At the time it was really amazing, and I got hired as the associate editor before I was even out of the program. Then I became managing editor there before the 1996 election cycle, which was less than a year out of college. It was amazing. I got to go to all the conventions and do all sorts of stuff, and I’m sitting there going, “You guys know I’m 22 and you’re asking my opinion, right?” At least I knew what to say because I had learned a lot from the programs and the experiences that we had at IPJ and all the people that we got to interact with. You know, we had classes with Coleman McCarthy. I mean, who can say that?
Roger Ream [00:03:42] Well, that’s great. I’m glad it had such a great influence on you, and you still remember the economics you learned. Most journalism majors, of course, don’t get any economics when they go through school. We want to make sure all our journalism students have at least one course in economics. Professor Jack High is a friend as well as a professor. We enjoyed having him teach for us here at Georgetown when we were there, as well as at our program in Prague. The international students loved him as well.
Sandy Malone [00:04:14] He’s really a lot of fun. Yeah, he makes econ fun.
Roger Ream [00:04:20] He loves class participation, too, and letting students get into it.
Sandy Malone [00:04:26] My first job after Campaigns and Elections magazine was as a political reporter from The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, which had launched only recently at that point. There were a lot of things that I wrote about that if I hadn’t had Dr. High putting us in the right direction of how to read things and know what I was reading, I would have been in a lot more trouble. I actually learned things. I still quote things from the ethics class. It’s come full circle because I was in journalism and then in government affairs and public relations and then wedding planning for 11 years. And now I’m back. I’m managing editor of The Police Tribune, and it’s the nation’s largest police publication. My husband is a police captain, retired. So that’s where that sort of initiated my interest. But all of these things still tie into all the principles that The Fund for American Studies teaches. We enjoy reading all the updates and seeing what’s going on with the programs. You guys grow every year!
Roger Ream [00:05:30] Well, you provide updates, too, which we appreciate. I’d like to talk to you about all those things, both the work on the Police Tribune, your work in the wedding planning business, because you’ve been an entrepreneur. We’re going to have several of our TFAS alums as guests in the coming weeks who are true entrepreneurs like yourself. I think that’s exciting. One more question about your TFAS experience. You said you keep up with others who did the program with you. You had a great internship. You enjoyed the classes.
Sandy Malone [00:06:03] Yes.
Roger Ream [00:06:04] We say live, learn and intern. You covered all three bases there.
Sandy Malone [00:06:08] 100%.
Roger Ream [00:06:09] Living with students you keep in touch with today, interning at an internship that hired you which doesn’t happen to every student.
Sandy Malone [00:06:17] Nope.
Roger Ream [00:06:17] That’s great, and then to learn in the class that Professor High taught and no doubt the other classes. That’s wonderful. It did the same thing for me when I was a student a few years ahead of you.
Sandy Malone [00:06:30] Not that many.
Roger Ream [00:06:32] No. No. Well, you got a taste of journalism. I remember actually seeing your first byline piece in The Wall Street Journal when you worked there. That was exciting for us. I think you were probably the first graduate of our program who worked at The Wall Street Journal, but we now have seven or eight who work there today. Some on the editorial side of things-
Sandy Malone [00:06:55] Yeah! I get all excited when I see that.
Roger Ream [00:06:57] Yeah, yeah. But tell me about how you ended up in Puerto Rico?
Sandy Malone [00:07:01] You know, it was such a fabulous experience. So I went to The Wall Street Journal, and it was a lot of fun. First off, I had to live in Manhattan for a few years, and I just wasn’t a Manhattan person. I did it. But then I got an offer from Creative Response Concepts, and the connection was made. By the way, when I was at The Wall Street Journal, John Fund used to take me out to lunch all the time. He was this humungous person on the editorial board. He was famous, he was on TV all the time, and he knew I was an alumna. He would pop in and check on me and take me to lunch. These are the kinds of things that TFAS alumni do when they know that people, interns, younger new hires are coming in. It’s something that I’ve never seen from any other organization, to be really honest. So anyway, I’d been up there and I think John may have told me to talk with Creative Response Concepts. I know CRC and The Fund for American Studies were involved, but the next thing you know, I had an awesome job offer and I moved down. I moved back and worked for that crew and with lots of alumni and it was an amazing experience. I was one of the lead media strategists to help kick the Navy off of Vieques island because the government of Puerto Rico was a client, and they accidentally blew up a civilian security guard. Instead of saying no more bombing on Vieques, they just said they want the Navy off the island entirely. And we worked for the government of Puerto Rico. I got to spend months flying in and taking reporters on tours of the live fire zone and to the military base and explaining why things were the way they were. I fell in love with the place. But when the government of Puerto Rico switched governors, it’s like up here when the Republicans lose, there was effectively a Republican governor down there — when they lost Celia Calderon, who was the mayor of San Juan, who became governor of Puerto Rico, they fired all the consultants and hired all the others. I kept going back to Vieques because I loved it and it was beautiful and I had all these friends in the Puerto Rico government that we would go see in San Juan. We bought a vacation home there and got married there. My husband was eligible to retire after 30 years as Metro Transit, and he was a slot commander. Times were changing. I had the opportunity and there was no wedding planner on Vieques. I planned my wedding down there and I said, Let’s do it. And we said two weddings a month would be a successful bar for the first couple of years. By August of the first year in business, we had 19 weddings, and we were just going, “What have we done to ourselves?!”
Roger Ream [00:09:57] 19 in one month?
Sandy Malone [00:09:59] Mmhmm. Some of them were elopements, but that still was a couple days of picking them up at the airport, getting them checked in, doing the marriage licenses, usually simultaneously while you had groups on the island because no wedding was one day. People would arrive on Wednesday and welcome parties and beach parties and… And we did all of this. My friend’s husband was a TV producer. We would tell these ridiculous stories and he’d be like, “That can’t really happen.” We’re like, “Oh, it happens. It happens every time. You don’t even have to try. It’s just a matter of what will go wrong.” Will it be something on the wedding planning side that goes wrong? Or will it be the wedding guest who drinks till they have to go to the emergency room? You don’t know what’s going to happen. Anyways, they came down and filmed a demo and we were offered a bunch of different opportunities. We went with TLC. Our production crew was 495 Productions. They had just finished filming Jersey Shore. We were an established business. They came down, and it was rough. I mean, we had 70 people for a five-person staff filming us. “Sandy Cam” for 70 days. It was horrible. But we did one season. We survived it. They were real clients except for two, like the 12 weddings we filmed. But it just isn’t realistic to do that to real clients.
Roger Ream [00:11:27] Yeah, but the clients agreed to be filmed.
Sandy Malone [00:11:29] Oh, they all agreed. They all got some form of incentive to agree since they were already clients. They picked up the tab for the flowers or airfare or whatever. Everybody got some incentive to agree to allow–
Roger Ream [00:11:42] Agree to 15 minutes of fame, right?
Sandy Malone [00:11:43] Right, exactly. And you know, some of them I think really enjoyed it and some of them probably regretted it. And I think that’s probably how everybody feels who does reality TV. It’s interesting. I want to make a point, and I’ve told a couple of people this that have come to me that had businesses, that had opportunities, you don’t necessarily grow your business or make any more money by being on a reality show. The show didn’t make my business look bad. I mean, we made beautiful weddings happen under really difficult circumstances, but I got seven million inquiries from people saying, “I have a thousand guests and a $50 budget,” and they all see it on TV. You have to treat everybody with respect, you take their calls and you’ve got to vet all of this stuff. But it makes it very difficult to actually run a business. You know, going back to being a normal wedding planning business was a tough one. I loved what He did, but you have to say that when God shuts the door, He opens a window. Well, Hurricane Maria did that. The way my business worked, we were booked a year and a half in advance all the time, and when we talked about, “Are we done with living on an island off the coast of another island?” And our grandchildren are getting old enough that we wanted to be home and do things with them. What do we do? Hurricane Maria wiped out everything down there. People talk about where it hit in Puerto Rico first. It hit Vieques first, and they still don’t have a hospital. They didn’t have power for 17 months. Power and water are still as unreliable as ever.
Roger Ream [00:13:18] So, Sandy, you’ve gone down there, you’ve built a business that far exceeded even your expectations, it took off. You got a contract or a deal with the TLC channel to film you for a year. And no doubt you’re kind of at a peak. And then it sounds like you had some thoughts like, “maybe we should think about a shift in our career” before the hurricane hit.
Sandy Malone [00:13:42] Vieques is a really special island and I highly recommend vacations there. It’s incredible. But like I said, the hospital was destroyed, and it wasn’t much of a hospital. I mean, anything serious you got Med-evac’ed.
Roger Ream [00:13:55] And you couldn’t have weddings, right?
Sandy Malone [00:13:56] Well, no. We had to cancel every wedding – 18 weddings.
Roger Ream [00:14:00] Did you take a big financial hit on that?
Sandy Malone [00:14:01] Oh, yeah. I mean, the way that my business was structured, I didn’t take a hit on the fees because I had another big payment coming from them that they would never pay. But I went back to all of my vendors to recoup deposits for my clients, and I had some vendors who wouldn’t refund, and the clauses that they really should have had in their contracts to do that weren’t there. I have a reputation though, so I paid back those client deposits to the clients. It wasn’t an extraordinary amount. I was really blessed because there were a lot of people that lived on the island who didn’t have an option. We had a condo up in Montgomery County, Maryland, that we’d kept because nobody wanted us to visit for more than a week, so we needed a place to stay when we came home. And we were really lucky-
Roger Ream [00:15:00] What a stressful time for you, for your business. Of course, a stressful time for your clients. These people want to get married.
Sandy Malone [00:15:06] Well, I had to reevaluate because we had the opportunity to relaunch it in the Washington area. It’s an incredible place for weddings, I know the area. If I’m going to transition, that would make sense. But I was tired. We had done more than 500 weddings in 11 years. It’s an exhausting job. It’s just really, really tough. It’s emotional as well. I wasn’t ready to jump back into it and I wanted a break. The Police Tribune, which was Blue Lives Matter back then, was hiring an editor and I was just curious and reached out and the timing was good, it was right after the hurricane, and we were reevaluating everything. It turned out to be the most amazing job on the planet and I’m managing editor of the publication, but I get to write as much as I want because writing’s what I love. I wrote a book. It’s still on Amazon. I still get a little royalty check. It’s about wedding planning.
Roger Ream [00:16:15] Right, I have the book! I have the book.
Sandy Malone [00:16:17] Do you? I can write anything that you want me to write, but I actually enjoy covering news. My first news beat ever was the police beat at Ohio State on The Lantern.
Roger Ream [00:16:27] It’s interesting that, you know, if you had restarted your wedding business, I’m just thinking in 2020-
Sandy Malone [00:16:32] COVID!
Roger Ream [00:16:33] You would’ve hit a pandemic-
Sandy Malone [00:16:37] We’ve said it 100 times like, thank goodness. Every bride I canceled sobbed. Some of the grooms cried too, you know, every couple cried, and I cried with them because I was sad about their wedding, and I was sad that my home was gone. That was our primary residence. After the storm, our house was fine, it was concrete, but we were looted and just bad stuff. It was the kind of thing that made you just say, I don’t want to live there again. At least not right now. I would vacation there in a heartbeat. I was ready to be back home, and we have a lot of family up here. I was just really lucky because I never stopped writing. I had a column for the Huffington Post (which always makes people laugh). But I had a column for them for like six years. And I wrote for Condé Nast for Brides magazine. I did a ton of writing. The whole time my blogs were pretty prolific. That was the crazy thing: I never did any paid advertising for my company other than on the local maps on our island, because everything organically spread because of all my writing. I just took that energy and converted it. But it hasn’t been a dull ride at the Police Tribune at all, because, like I said, it was Blue Lives Matter when I was hired. Blue Lives Matter was founded in 2014, -15 by my bosses, I guess, actually around Ferguson. And then it became a movement and we had to rename the publication because it’s an actual publication. You know, it’s straight news reporting and it is all too confused with what the name was.
Roger Ream [00:18:21] Let me let me ask you a few questions about that. First of all, you mentioned covering the police beat, back when you were at the Ohio State University-
Sandy Malone [00:18:29] Yes.
Roger Ream [00:18:31] I understand they’ve just trademarked the word “the,” so hopefully we won’t have to pay a royalty for me saying that. But what was that like as a college undergraduate covering the police beat?
Sandy Malone [00:18:41] Well, Ohio State’s like a small city. It’s not a small city, it’s a normal-sized city.
Roger Ream [00:18:46] And the school paper is a major paper.
Sandy Malone [00:18:47] Yeah! I’m trying to remember; it was like 48 pages daily. I mean, it was a real newspaper then. Now it’s all online, but I mean, it was a real newspaper then, and everybody grabbed a copy, and I got a couple of SPJ awards, like big ones for spot news reporting and investigative journalism when I was there. I got one for busting a contract steering ring. The fraternities and sororities kept getting in trouble for drinking and parties, and they’d get referred to the dean in the justice system there. She would say, okay, well, you’ve got to go to alcohol awareness classes, or you’re fighting with another fraternity, so you have to go to anger management classes, blah, blah, blah. Right? And they were just hemorrhaging tens of thousands of dollars a quarter for these classes. And it turned out that that lady in the justice position, she and her husband had just moved down from the University of New Hampshire, and he started the company that ran all the classes. The school didn’t know they were married.
Roger Ream [00:19:55] But you got to the bottom of it.
Sandy Malone [00:19:56] I got to the bottom of it! And I broke it in a series of stories because it just kept getting weirder and weirder.
Roger Ream [00:20:02] Now it’s clear why we accepted you to our Journalism + Communications program, because you’ve got that kind of success as a –.
Sandy Malone [00:20:07] You guys waitlisted me, you waitlisted me! And Steve Hayes said, “You’re under consideration.” In that paragraph, it says if there’s anything else that you accomplish or you publish between now and when we make our decision, please send it to us. I was the police beat reporter. I think I might have been campus editor that semester, so I just bombarded you guys.
Roger Ream [00:20:34] That’s right.
Sandy Malone [00:20:35] You guys accepted me and gave me a scholarship so I would stop.
Roger Ream [00:20:38] Yeah, that explains why when I came in in the morning, the paper was all piled on the floor behind the reception desk.
Sandy Malone [00:20:44] Hey I had to wait late to get unfettered access to the fax machine so I could send you stuff.
Roger Ream [00:20:50] So now you’ve done this as an undergraduate covering the police beat, and now here you are a few decades later, going back to this-
Sandy Malone [00:20:59] Yeah.
Roger Ream [00:21:00] Area of journalism. Law enforcement, and police. I think you mentioned your husband was a retired police officer in the D.C. area and on SWAT teams and all. But it’s certainly become a major issue, the whole issue of the defund police movement, the respect for police or lack thereof. What kinds of things do you cover at the Police Tribune?
Sandy Malone [00:21:29] We cover all of it. I covered George Floyd from the very first moment – I covered every day of the trial. I also made time to watch the Johnny Depp trial, but we weren’t covering that. I covered the Brooklyn Center shooting. She grabbed her gun instead of her taser. I’ve covered a lot of major ones. Right now one of the big ones I’m covering is Akron and Jalen Walker. It’s just a bad scene because they’re investigating now to see what, if any, procedures the officers violated. And everybody’s going, they shot him 60 times, they obviously– no, they didn’t obviously violate procedure because they’ve each got 17 rounds in their gun and eight of them opened fire. Do the math; they didn’t even completely unload. He was on the ground when there were the last two shots. Yes. But they happened in like .2 seconds. You always hear about people who go and do an active shooter type drill, or go to a police thing and learn how to do it, and they come away with a totally different perspective of time, space and shooting.
Roger Ream [00:22:40] It does seem like in some of these stories, and of course I don’t follow it nearly as closely as you do, but there’s a narrative that comes out immediately afterwards and it spreads very quickly, it gets distorted. Then when an investigation is finally completed and the facts come out, it’s a very different story.
Sandy Malone [00:23:02] We were talking about this the other day, how we used to see something on the news, and they would say, “The police are investigating, and we’ll have more for you on that tomorrow.” And we all said, okay, we’re going to have more on that tomorrow. They need to investigate. And now the investigative tools are 1,000,000% better. We have body cam. We have a video on every building, on every corner, every dashcam, but they still have to watch it. They still have to process it, they still have to investigate and determine what happened. The problem is these narratives get spun up in a number of cases and-
Roger Ream [00:23:34] People don’t want to wait, right? They want-
Sandy Malone [00:23:36] No they don’t.
Roger Ream [00:23:36] Immediate information and answers.
Sandy Malone [00:23:38] Exactly. I hate to use the George Floyd example because that was such a big one. But again, cities are burned when people get upset. In Buffalo a year ago they had a shooting where there was a ton of violence afterwards and it turned out it was nothing. There’s cities where that happens all the time. It’s not that it was nothing, somebody died, but the cops didn’t hunt them down and kill them. With Jalen Walker, the guy was shooting at them 40 seconds before he jumped out of a car wearing a black ski mask. Okay. Even in the era of COVID, that’s not normal. You’re not driving at night in a black ski mask for no reason in July or June. That doesn’t make sense. So, I mean, nobody deserves to be shot 60 times. It was his second police chase of the day. Earlier in the day, he’d fled police in New Franklin, which was an adjacent township, and they put the alert out. So Akron police went after him, same stolen car. He shot at police. When he dove out of the car in his mask, he left his gun in the car. There was no way for police to have known that. And when you watch the video, it’s just lickety split. What’s upsetting is any use of force is hard to watch, whether it’s shooting, whether it’s people deploying, officers deploying tear gas. But watching somebody be shot is awful.
Roger Ream [00:25:01] Now, the audience for the Police Tribune, is it mostly law enforcement officers, people in law enforcement, or…?
Sandy Malone [00:25:09] We have certainly a lot of law enforcement supporters. I think we have like two and a half million followers on the Blue Lives Matter Facebook page. And we’ve transitioned, but it’s a lot of law enforcement supporters. It’s a lot of conservatives, it’s a lot of Republicans. It’s a lot of people who want to know what’s actually going on in the news with the police. It’s fun because you can tell how many people that are not pro-police are on our pages because they argue in the comments and then you’re like, what do you even-? But they’re reading it because they know that we are reporting the facts. You know, even when the police look bad, we report the facts and we make the cops mad, too. But there needs to be one resource that is, you know, that it wasn’t afraid to print the toxicology report from the George Floyd thing. You need publications that are going to show every aspect of what’s going on. I think that’s why we’ve grown in popularity. It’s been a fun experience.
Roger Ream [00:26:19] Well we’ve certainly witnessed the last few years a spike in crime in major cities. I think we’ve seen a pullback to some extent of policing that’s led to that. And obviously, it’s not purely a conservative/liberal issue, but it does often play out that way in many cities. Do you see us coming to a more reasonable position in terms of everyone recognizing there’s an important need to have a strong and well-trained police force in cities and use reasonable tools to try to reduce crime?
Sandy Malone [00:26:56] I think people realize that defunding the police was a bad idea. Find a single city where lowering police budgets, cutting personnel has been positive, effective. I mean, some of the cities where they haven’t done that but they’ve augmented by adding people to go to emotional distress calls, you know, social workers. Great. But the social workers don’t want to go to these calls without police. Look at New York right now, it’s a mess. Los Angeles, San Diego, they can’t keep officers. Seattle, they’re so far down, it’s not even funny. New York’s literally having an exodus of detectives right now. Criminals are emboldened. The problem is they’re making all these stupid rules like you can’t chase anymore. You can’t chase. Criminals are going to keep robbing people and they’re going to run, but the cops aren’t allowed to chase them.
Roger Ream [00:28:04] So that was the case in Chicago, yeah, you make a good point. And you also see in many big, some big cities, district attorneys who don’t want to prosecute-.
Sandy Malone [00:28:12] They won’t prosecute.
Roger Ream [00:28:13] They’ve eliminated bail for many.
Sandy Malone [00:28:18] I lost track of how many stories we covered, especially on the West Coast: Portland, Seattle – people who were assaulting, damaging, breaking, doing horrible things and they’re not facing the charges. They’re not being held to account. Prosecutors aren’t doing anything about it. But people are not completely crazy because look at Chesa Boudin in San Francisco. I mean, the district attorney, the George Soros funded district attorney whose parents were cop killers, he actually got recalled. He’s getting booted out in San Francisco, which means like maybe the world isn’t going to completely come to an end. Maybe there, even in the most liberal city in the world, people were like, wait a minute, this is crazy. We can’t even walk down the street anymore. I just don’t want us to all have to become San Francisco.
Roger Ream [00:29:07] Yeah. Yeah, well, let’s shift for a minute, Sandy. I’d like to give you the opportunity to offer advice to young people who are coming up after you. Let me first ask you a little bit about whether you have any thoughts about the future of journalism, because we’ve seen a drop off to some extent in young people who think journalism is a career they should pursue. You know, that’s partly because, perhaps the media has become so splintered and the profession itself is not as prominent in some ways. But would you still recommend to people with that passion you have, the ability to write like you do, to pursue careers in journalism?
Sandy Malone [00:29:52] Yeah, I think we need good journalists. We need educated journalists, and we need honest journalists. The problem is that when I was taking ethics classes, when I went to The Wall Street Journal, all the paperwork we signed about what we couldn’t do, what you can’t talk about, what you can’t do, what it wouldn’t be appropriate to do, and what you can’t share. And these rules don’t seem to apply anymore anywhere. I’m so horrified by what I’m seeing at the highest levels at major networks. It just doesn’t seem like rules apply. And there used to be a time where there were commentators and there were news anchors. Now every news anchor thinks we want to know what their political opinion is. I don’t. I think a lot of people feel that way. And that’s why people end up leaning towards one of the channels that’s more their political view because they’re all skewed. You may as well go with one that won’t really make you mad while you’re listening, but there’s just not as much straight reporting. I really fear for journalism because the whole fake news thing, well, everything’s– I mean, anybody in the world right now who knows how to set up a website can become a journalist by tomorrow. Like we all thought it was funny when Matt Drudge did it, right? But he was just taking everybody else’s stories and putting them out there. This is a completely different world where people just start writing and it becomes fact. Remember when you had to have two sources? You don’t have to do that anymore.
Roger Ream [00:31:30] I know advice we were giving to students back when you attended our program was just along the lines of what you said, that you’re 20 years old. People aren’t interested in your opinions. What they want is for you to go out and find information for them that they can use. And now, you know, hey, I can voice my opinion in 250 characters or less on Twitter and I might get 25 people to like it. So they get the impression that their opinion is worth so much because they can tweet it out or put it on Instagram. So it is a different world.
Sandy Malone [00:32:02] It’s a different world. I think that for somebody serious about wanting to be in journalism, I think your best bet is to go to a legitimate publication initially. I mean, I wasn’t with The Wall Street Journal for that long, but it’s still always going to be a benchmark on my resume. It shows that I have the credibility, you know what I mean? And yeah, I think that’s really important. Try and find a reputable publication or a network that will work with you and give you an opportunity when you’re young because you need to really try and learn from some journalists.
Roger Ream [00:32:37] One of the things we’re emphasizing in our program, Sandy, is the idea of courageous leadership because it takes courage today to be a leader with the danger of being canceled for something, opinion you have, or for some arbitrary reason. Could you offer some advice to young people today about how to be a courageous leader?
Sandy Malone [00:32:57] I think you have to be brave now and willing to step up for what you believe in. But I also think that it helps to educate yourself on the things that you believe in. You can make a much more compelling argument. You stand taller as a leader when you have the facts and the information to back up what you’re saying, when you’re not just spewing information or spewing things that you’ve picked up on Twitter. And there’s a lot of that. It is not surprising that the younger generation thinks that everything that’s on the Internet is true. I know that they don’t really. But you really have to peel away the layers of the onion with all of these things. We need the leaders. They need to be brave, but they also need to be smart, to learn. We need smart young people who really understand what they’re talking about.
Roger Ream [00:33:55] So learn some things. Take some economics.
Sandy Malone [00:33:58] Yeah!
Roger Ream [00:34:00] Listen to your professors. Those lessons might be valuable in the future. Right. I have to ask you – you mentioned something to me about something that Professor Jack High had taught you in economics that I thought was funny.
Sandy Malone [00:34:12] Yeah.
Roger Ream [00:34:13] In the balance of trade discussion, but it comes back to remind me of the fact that we’re living in times again of inflation. I recall when I was a college student in the seventies – interest rates were high, inflation was high. Would you share that again about what Professor High was telling you and your classmates?
Sandy Malone [00:34:29] My roommates and I still joke about it. Dr. High was teaching balance of trade, and we’d been talking about how much money the U.S. gave to the French film industry at the time. And it was just so–
Roger Ream [00:34:43] Oh yeah, subsidies.
Sandy Malone [00:34:43] Right! We’re talking about all of this. He was talking about why we do things and why we don’t do things and what we’re doing that was good and what we’re doing that was bad. I don’t remember the specific example, but all my friends and I quote him all the time because he goes, “They keep doing that, the only thing the dollar bill is going to be good for is rolling up and smoking.” Our class just died laughing. But he was right. He found ways to explain really difficult, weighty economic topics in a way that made it fun, made sense, and still comes to mind. When I see certain things, I’m like, Oh, really? We think that’s a good idea to do that? The only thing the dollar bill’s going to be good for is smoking. The Fund for American Studies has come back so many times in my life and the foundation that I got there, the friends that I made there, I still have so many friends, you know, not even necessarily my year, but people I met through it. All I can say is if I hadn’t had it, I can’t imagine where I would be today. But the opportunities it gave me were unparalleled and I strongly encourage everybody who goes to the programs to do as many of them as they can, stay connected and make friends.
Roger Ream [00:36:01] Well, I think that’s a good note to bring this to a conclusion. Sandy, it’s been a wonderful conversation with you. Congratulations on all the success as well as the way you’ve overcome the hardships of being an entrepreneur and a leader. You just keep going forward and you’re an example, a role model for young people.
Sandy Malone [00:36:22] Thank you.
Roger Ream [00:36:23] You’re welcome. Thank you for listening to the Liberty + Leadership Podcast. Please don’t forget to subscribe, download, like or share the show on Apple, Spotify or YouTube, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like this episode, I ask you to rate and review it. And if you have a comment or question for the show, please drop us an email at podcast@TFAS.org. The Liberty + Leadership Podcast is produced at kglobal Studios in Washington, D.C. I’m your host Roger Ream, and until next time, show courage in things large and small.
About the Podcast
TFAS has reached more than 46,000 students and professionals through academic programs, fellowships and seminars. Representing more than 140 countries, TFAS alumni are courageous leaders throughout the world forging careers in politics, government, public policy, business, philanthropy, law and the media.
Join TFAS President Roger Ream ’76 as he reconnects with these outstanding alumni to share experiences, swap career stories, and find out what makes their leadership journey unique. With prominent congressmen, judges and journalists among the mix, each episode is sure to excite your interest in what makes TFAS special.
If you have a comment or question for the show, please email podcast@TFAS.org.
View future episodes and subscribe at TFAS.org/podcast.