NAME: Michael Jarvis
JOB TITLE: Communications Director for the Department of Forestry
Capitol Weekly: We hear that you are a former journalist.
Mike Jarvis: When I was 18, my mom had a newspaper in the Central Valley
that she published. One time I was at a party and an owl landed on my head,
and so I wrote a story about it because it stayed around for about three
hours. That was one of my first stories. I always worked for my mom, and
then I always worked around the school paper in college. I wrote for some
small papers. Then I got sidetracked into politics. Its weird, I have kind
of zig-zagged back and forth. I did TV news and TV sports. I worked on a
magazine. I worked on a game show as a writer for Fox, but it never saw the
light of day. I have worked about eight years in television. I have also
done a couple hundred freelance stories for the LA Times.
CW: What do you think of the politics side since you have transitioned from
MJ: This job is kind of a hybrid of both, which I really like. I was elected
to the board of supervisors for Mono County and served for four years, but I
didn’t seek re-election because I was ready to go back to journalism. When I
was in this position, I was working with journalists from the other side of
the fence, which was really interesting because you could see what their
motives were and if they were good reporters or not. I liked the political
aspect of lobbying when I worked for a lobbyist for a year. And in April, I
was appointed to this position.
CW: It sounds as though your resume garnishes a plethora of jobs. What was
one of the most unique?
MJ: A while back I wrote an advertisement for a Volvo campaign that was
directed by Spike Jonze. The ad floated around the internet for a while.
That was interesting but my job here is one of the best.
CW: So what do you know about fighting fires?
MJ: You know, I have to be honest, when I first came here when I’d meet
people I’d tell them right out of the shoot that I am not a firefighter. We
have firefighting experts here that are probably the best in the world. So
my job is to make sure that we get the message out correctly, from
responding to fires, to floods, to emergencies and everything else.
CW: What do you like best about your job?
MJ: There are so many interesting aspects of this department. There are tons
of education programs, we have an aviation division, people who oversee
fireworks, environmental impact reports, we have an agreement with the
Mexican government that is a cooperative effort to fight fires that occur on
the border and we also work with pyrotechnics on movie sets. What the
department covers is endless. I never thought I’d be in a job where I’d get
a phone call from the producer of Geraldo, and then hang up the phone and
talk to someone from the New York Times. There is nothing boring about this
CW: So what do you do when you aren’t worrying about fires?
MJ: Well I have a one-year-old now who keeps me occupied. He’s pretty much
the focus now. He’s a good boy. It’s changed everything.