Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Creative Writing

Committee Director

A. J. Nolan

Committee Member

Luisa A. Igloria

Committee Member

Molly McCully Brown


In 1989, MTV, Music Television, opened a series it titled “Unplugged,” having performers play live sets acoustically, rather than with amplifiers. The setting was casual and the show involved a lot of talking. Artists often told stories about the background of certain pieces, when or why certain songs were created, personal anecdotes, tales of being on the road. I loved these shows. I loved the concept.

What would happen, I wondered, if you ever unplugged a reporter, gave them a platform off the page or screen or radio, unfiltered them?

As a mainly feature-writing print journalist who had interviewed hundreds of people to tell their stories over the years, I adopted a version of the MTV “unplugged” model in 2014 and created a blog I called “Journalist Unplugged” with the intention of telling the stories of the stories, what journalists think about and talk about among themselves between the interviews.

While my ensuing battle with Complex PTSD made projects like the blog difficult, as covered in these pages, as an MFA graduate student, I found my way to a new conception of that idea through analyzing multiple creative nonfiction memoirs that mirrored my own experiences. I had written first-person columns for newspapers and magazines, but I had never written essays, never considered memoir, never thought about what contributed to who I am as a writer. “Journalist Unplugged” represents a transition from journalist to essayist. This is a personal memoir.


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