Q&A: New Host John Dickerson on ‘Face the Nation’ and His Time at UVA

Anchor, author and political analyst John Dickerson attributes his ability to analyze politics to his time spent in the University of Virginia’s American studies program.

Dickerson is the new anchor of CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” A 1991 graduate of U.Va., he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and specialized in American studies.

In addition to his new “Face the Nation” hosting duties, Dickerson is the political director for CBS News and is a contributor to Slate Magazine. Prior to joining Slate, Dickerson reported on the White House for Time magazine for 12 years and has covered five presidential campaigns.

UVA Today spoke with Dickerson about his new position and his time at U.Va.

Q. What has the experience been like so far taking over the anchor seat at “Face the Nation”?

A. It has been so exciting and very intense. As a reporter, you end the week with a notebook full of questions, but you can’t do anything with them. Now I have a venue to ask people the questions I want answered.

Q. What part of your new job at “Face the Nation” are you most looking forward to? 

A. I’m looking forward to the chance to explain things. Yes, I want to break news, and yes, I want to have great interviews, but I really want to be a place where we help people understand what’s happening in the world around them.   

Q. What parts of your U.Va. experience helped prepare you for your career so far? 

A. My time in the American studies program helped me learn about American history, and it helped me learn to deconstruct literature, which is not terribly different than decoding political behavior – motivations, narrative, different voices, hidden messages.

Q. Your executive producer, Mary Hager, is also a U.Va. graduate, though you would have just missed each other on Grounds. Have you compared notes about your student days? 

A. We haven’t compared notes, actually. How is that the case? I can’t believe that. We should do a show at U.Va. and use that as an excuse.

Q. What advice do you have for current students who want to pursue a career in media? 

A. Learn about something – science, math or history. You can learn the tricks of journalism on the job. Also, spend some time thinking about how you learn, how you think and what process you use. Knowing how to learn is an important part of learning.

Q. What’s your favorite place on Grounds? 

A. My favorite place is the Alderman Library stacks and Rare Books reading room.

Media Contact

Dan Heuchert

Assistant Director of University News and Chief Copy Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications