Taking on the Famous Ticking Clock
From covering mass shootings to doping, 60 Minutes Associate Producer Andrew Bast (M.A. '09, Political Science) is putting his GC degree to work.
As an associate producer for 60 Minutes, Andrew Bast (M.A. ’09, Political Science) has covered an array of hot-button issues, from North Korea’s demilitarized zone and Chicago homicides to Silicon Valley hacking, sexual assault at Baylor University, and U.S. intelligence secrets. He’s most proud of “The Case of Alex Rodriguez,” a year-long investigation into the Rodriguez doping scandal that won a News & Documentary Emmy Award for Best Report in a News Magazine.
“I never thought an M.A. in Political Science would lead to doing stories on things like doping,” Bast said. But two years of studying international relations at CUNY has propelled him to the top of his journalistic game.
Bast was already freelancing before he applied to graduate school, traveling on his own dime to sell stories about arts and culture. “I knew I wanted to be a journalist, and I suspected that getting a master’s would help me move more into that world,” he said.
His degree proved to be the perfect marriage of intellectual rigor and real-world application. “We weren’t just studying international law or war theory or how the U.N. functions for the sake of knowing; we had to be able to write about those things and explain them to a broader audience,” Bast said. “Everything we did was grounded in some connection to the real world.” Even his writing assignments were in the form of op-eds rather than academic papers.
During his first semester at CUNY, Bast accepted an internship at Newsweek, which he later parlayed into a full-time job as articles editor. He quickly saw the writing on the wall, however. “Being a print reporter was spectacular, but the print industry was beginning to collapse,” he recalled. “I knew I had to go someplace else.” He joined 60 Minutes in 2012, enticed by the “power behind the show and how much they put into doing it right.”
Bast’s associate producer duties involve many moving parts. Generally, he scopes out stories in the field, determines their accuracy and which subjects to interview, and writes up questions. Next, he shoots interviews and B-roll and collects other video elements from news archives. Finally, in postproduction, Bast’s team writes a script based on interview footage as well as their own reporting, then sits down with an editor to turn the whole thing into 12 and a half minutes of “what needs to be pretty good TV.”
Bast is currently in the early stages of a story on mass shootings. “There are endless roads you can go down — which people have been hurt, what kinds of weapons have been used,” he says. But Bast has faced seemingly insurmountable quantities of data before and come out on top. “When you’re able to turn a laser-like focus on a really wide field and create a beginning, middle, and end for an audience, there’s real value there. And that’s exactly what we did at the GC.”