Mitch Frank quips that he started at the University of Virginia in 1992 “knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life – pediatrics.” By his second year, Frank says that he no longer knew what his future career path held.
On the suggestion of a friend in 1993, Frank followed his interest in film to The Cavalier Daily, which was recruiting movie reviewers. As he says, “It became my passion.”
The long and strange hours, late nights, and frantic pace of the paper strongly colored Frank’s time at the University. In his three years with The Cavalier Daily, he served as both Executive Editor and Arts & Entertainment Editor, learning management techniques, interview styles, and new subjects. He jokes about the significant time investment in the roles he took on, stating that while he was a student he told people that he “majored in Cavalier Daily.”
Frank recalls the story that stood out to him more than any other: Famed actor Robert Mitchum came to Charlottesville as “the guest of honor at the Virginia Film Festival.” Frank says that he “spent weeks negotiating with [Mitchum’s] agent for time,” and was finally able to meet Mitchum at the Boar’s Head Inn. The interview was clearly memorable but also instilled in Frank the importance of the hard work needed “to bring the person to life on the page.”
Frank appreciated the “sense of camaraderie and responsibility of working together to ungodly hours on breaking news,” noting that it was a fertile ground for the growth of friendships. In addition, Frank met his wife Catherine at the paper in 1995 when she was a copy editor. This year marks their 16th anniversary. They have two sons.
Frank’s excellent work at The Cavalier Daily got him a job at Entertainment Weekly following graduation; he went on to become a political reporter at Time Magazine. He’s written two books, and today he serves as associate editor at Wine Spectator magazine and news editor of its website.
He says that young writers today ask him for advice on the foundational elements and basics of journalism. Thankfully he can pass those along because, he notes, “I learned all of those basics in the basement of Newcomb Hall.”