The Many Faces of Gifted: Jonathan

May 7, 2013

By Carole Rosner

Every gifted person has a unique story. The following story is part of a series of posts depicting the many faces of gifted by highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs. IEA’s Apprenticeship Program – mentioned in this story – links gifted high school students from across the country with mentors who advance each participant’s skills through the application of knowledge and exposure to real world experiences.

Jonathan Horowitz
2001 Apprentice, CNN

Although some people may know that Jonathan Horowitz was the youngest person ever to call a horse race in the U.S. (he was 14 years old at the time), many people don’t know he was also an IEA Apprentice at CNN.

Jonathan explained how he found out about IEA: “I had a fantastic high school and college counselor based in Newport Beach named Ellen Weinstein. She knew how passionate I was about journalism from my horse race and sports announcing, and she found out about the Institute for Educational Advancement Apprenticeship Program and recommended it to me.”

“Looking back I cannot believe how great an experience I had through the Institute for Educational Advancement to be at CNN Center in Atlanta in 2001. Before my junior year of high school, I had the chance to learn something I was passionate about at one of the biggest and most successful news organizations in the world.”

“I still remember the first television package I ever made as part of the program. It was about the proliferation of cell phones as a social rather than business tool—which seems obvious now, but it was less apparent in 2001 (just watch the famous scene involving Michael Douglas from the movie Wall Street). The experience at CNN was the first time I ever had to film, write and edit my own television journalism story. It brought what I was passionate about to life. And we learned from some of the leading journalists in the industry. When I see someone like Gary Tuchman on television now, I think that some of my first lessons as a journalist came from him.”

“I also enjoyed sharing this experience with people my age from different high schools and backgrounds. Atlanta was a really fun city, as well. We went to a Braves game, Lennox Mall and other interesting areas in the city. Ludacris’ album “Welcome to Atlanta” had just come out, and I thought Atlanta was such a cool city.”

Jonathan horse race announcing at Zia Park in Hobbs, New Mexico, last year

Jonathan’s IEA Apprenticeship seemed to give him a leg up in the college application process – and in the real world, too. “When I applied to college in the School of Journalism at USC, admissions interviewers specifically referenced the CNN experience as a great internship that showed my passion for journalism and that I would be a good fit at USC. And now that I announce horse races and other sports professionally, along with hosting the “A Day at the Races” television show in the summers on the Altitude Sports network based in Denver, I look back at how my first lessons about broadcast journalism came from CNN via the Apprenticeship program. That’s about as good an experience to begin my career as I could have asked for.”

Jonathan still has a passion for journalism. He has been involved in the publication of three books, with another one in process. “I work in the Publishing Office at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., where I am a contributing author for a forthcoming book entitled Football Nation about 400 years of football history in the United States and its influence on American life and culture. At the Library of Congress, I also contributed to a book entitled Presidential Campaign Posters and edited Perspectives on the Hebraic Book. I am also the author of The One and Only: A Sports Quiz Deck of Definitive Games, Teams, Players, and Events, published by Pomegranate Communications.”

Jonathan announced at a boxing match at the University of Maryland in March

The One and Only is a set of “knowledge cards” that challenge the reader to name the sport event or person that is the most well known for various accomplishments. I asked Jonathan how he came up with this unique idea. “I was interested in why certain sports figures and moments stand out compared to others and become associated with a definitive label. Sports fans debate endlessly about the best this or the greatest that, but there is never any argument about who was The Great One, what was The Dream Team, or who was The Man. There are thousands of drives in football history, but only John Elway’s is The Drive. Michael Jordan made thousands of shots in his career, but only his jumper over Craig Ehlo of the Cleveland Cavaliers is called The Shot. So I went back to original accounts of these people and moments, such as newspaper articles or television coverage, and tried to learn how each definitive label became associated with that particular one to the exclusion of all others. It was often a spontaneous emotion from a journalist, announcer or headline writer that stuck for posterity’s sake.”

What’s it like to work at The Library of Congress? “The way I view the Library of Congress is that if someone has a question about any topic in the world, the Library of Congress will likely have the answer. In terms of the breadth and history of materials, it is fascinating to get lost in time looking at old books, photos, presidential papers and other manuscripts. Many of these items have never been seen or published before either. Being able to pick up, for example, a letter Teddy Roosevelt wrote from the White House brings the history to life,” Jonathan explained.

Since Jonathan has called races in England, too, I asked him what the differences are between the two countries’ horse tracks. “Racetracks in England can run clockwise or over different-shaped courses, while American racetracks are all counter-clockwise over uniformly-shaped flat ovals (with rare exception). The racetracks in England are also much larger, and an announcer has to use a television monitor to announce because the horses can be too far away to see even with binoculars. Since the racetracks in England are generally older (i.e. before the innovation of a public address system), the announcer’s booths can also be in odd locations and angles, and even amongst the fans.”