Anchors Abroad: An Interview with Brent Goff

From his beginnings at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Brent Goff has made his mark across national and international news platforms.

DW's AGENDA with Brent Goff

DW’s AGENDA with Brent Goff

Goff’s broad news presence ranges from CNN in Berlin and Washington, Time Magazine in Germany and German radio stations to news outlets in the U.S., NewsChannel11 in North Carolina and mid-Missouri’s own KOMU-TV.

Now, he is considered one of the best known faces at Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster.

With a passion for politics and foreign affairs, Goff hosts his own DW talk show, “AGENDA,” and he is also DW’s main anchor or presenter.

He shed some light on his transition from the U.S. to Germany, along with varying positions he’s held in the journalism field.

Rachel Wittel: Your career seemed to take off quickly after working at KOMU and NewsChannel11 in North Carolina. What drove you to make the move over seas?

Brent Goff: I had always been interested in reporting overseas. While working on my MA at Georgetown University in WashingtonDC, I worked part-time for CNN International. Frank Sesno was the bureau chief at the time and he encouraged me to go abroad. I worked as a producer for CNN in Berlin after I finished my MA at Georgetown. And once I was in Berlin, I knew that international news was the place to be!


DW’s “Talking Germany” presenter Peter Craven interviewing Goff

I’ve heard it tends to be easier starting out as a reporter in order to remain a reporter and possibly move up to an anchor position. That’s not at all the case in your path. How did you decide to make the switch back to reporting after producing and also working in print and radio? Then taking on anchoring roles?

There are no rules in this business when it comes to charting a path. My path may appear to be unusual, but once you talk to other journalists who have worked abroad as reporters, anchors, in print and radio, you quickly realize that they all have unique stories about how they ended up where they are.

You earned a Bachelor’s in German, Journalism and Political Science [at MU] – wow! What role has German played in your life and career choices? Similarly, what intrigued you most about German to continue studying and working in that business?

I had learned Latin in high school and I wanted to try something different when I arrived at Mizzou. German was my first choice because I had always been interested in Germany’s rich history with its glorious high and tragic lows. I was a Fulbright Scholar in Hamburg in 1995-96. I assisted in lecturing journalism courses at the university in Hamburg–in German! But my language abilities served me most once I arrived in Berlin. Speaking the language opens up so many doors…and one of those doors was at Germany’s international broadcaster, Deutsche Welle.

What should reporters in the U.S. investigate or focus on in Germany? What important factors tend to be missed in newscasts?

Journalists in the US who report on Germany should not rely on cognitive crutches. Too often we use what we know to explain what we don’t know. That translates into an abundance of stories about Oktoberfest, German beer, Nazis and the Holocaust. Germany is Europe’s most powerful country. It is a global exporter, second only to China. And its geopolitical influence around the world is enormous. Obama calls Merkel everyday to find out what Putin is doing! All of that needs to be reported….in addition to Bavarian beer lovers!

AGENDA's Goff giving commentary on DW's Insider blog

AGENDA’s Goff giving commentary on DW’s Insider blog

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you’re working your dream job now! From what I can tell, your talk show – “AGENDA” – allows you to anchor while reporting on political issues not only in Europe, but across the globe. How did you get to this point? Is this what you’ve always wanted to do? What’s your next move?

I love hosting my own talk show! AGENDA started in 2012 as an experiment. We wanted to combine the elements of a hard talk one-on-one interview with the breadth of a news magazine. The result was 3 guests talking about 3 headlines of the week. The show has just been nominated for an international Emmy in current affairs. There are other projects in the pipeline. Perhaps that is the part of this profession that can be a “dream.” News and consumers of news are changing constantly. We have to keep up with that change. That means never a dull moment—for me, a dream come true everyday!

For more biographical information about Brent Goff, click here.

To see related blogs I’ve written featuring Goff’s work, click here.