Sandpiper alum writes his way to Georgetown, Columbia

It’s not every day that one can turn on the television and see a Carmel High grad on CNN, debating the impact Monica Lewinsky could have on the 2016 presidential election. But for Danny Funt, 2010 CHS grad and former editor-in-chief of The Sandpiper, this probably won’t be the last time he appears on a major news network.

Four years after his humble start in journalism, Funt finds himself set to study in the fall at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, consistently ranked as one of the top schools of the trade in the country. This wasn’t always his plan, though.

“I was very set on law school for a long time, dating back before Carmel High, but I hadn’t really taken journalism seriously as a profession,” Funt says. “I had a change of heart maybe last summer when I got to kind of see why journalism is something that’s important and fulfilling, and I changed courses.”

Funt grew up with journalism as a constant presence in his home, as his father, Peter Funt, is a journalist himself who has been published in the New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Wall Street Journal.

“He is so passionate about [journalism] that he at least got me interested,” Danny Funt reflects of his father.

It wasn’t until his senior year in high school, however, that the younger Funt decided to join The Sandpiper staff. That choice ended up giving him a new perspective on journalism itself.

“I knew that if I did The Sandpiper, if nothing else, I’d have another year with Mr. [Mike] Palshaw to get writing experience,” Funt recalls, “and really, over the course of that year, I understood what journalism was and why it is something I should take seriously.”

Little did Funt know that three years later, he would be the editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Hoya. Getting started right away, Funt served as opinion editor for a semester before earning the title of chief in 2013.

However, his work at the Hoya hasn’t stopped Funt from doing other journalism projects. He wrote for the Monterey Herald for two summers, even penning an opinion piece that may have helped bring The Sandpiper back to life in 2012 after a one-year hiatus. Another summer, he interned at the Justice Department’s public affairs office. He also started writing for an online start-up called Symposium magazine.

But Funt’s latest product is something few have heard of or even thought of: a literary mixtape. Designed to blend written commentary with the format of an independent music project, the 77-page “mixtape” is laced with Kanye West quotations, cartoons and 18 different pieces written by Funt and various contributors, including other past CHS students.

Eventually, the Georgetown grad hopes to start his own news outlet and be on the publishing side of things. To some, his choice of career direction is both unexpected and expected.

“I suppose I knew that he would be successful, but if you had asked me, ‘Is he going to be the editor-in-chief for the Georgetown newspaper?’ I would have said, ‘That sounds like whoa,’ but he did that,” history teacher and mock trial coach Bill Schrier says. “Now he is going to journalism school, so I think the sky’s the limit for him. Honestly. I can’t imagine a job that he wouldn’t qualify for.”

While he’s moving on to bigger and better things, Danny Funt keeps with him lessons he learned while writing for The Sandpiper, like standing up for oneself as a journalist.

“If you’re working at an intimate environment like a school,” Funt explains, “you don’t want the powers that be—whether it’s the administrators or even the teachers or the school district officials—to be able to shut down stories or stifle your ability to do investigative coverage.”

The courage Funt had to take a stand against “the man” impressed readers of The Sandpiper.

“Danny really looked at the hidden underbelly of the school, things that faculty were upset about,” academic counselor Darren Johnston says. “He could have taken the easy route and not stirred things up, but he always wanted to expose the truth of what was happening.”

Although Danny Funt graduated in 2010, his legacy at CHS lives on.

“Student contributions to the school typically have a pretty limited shelf life,” Johnston adds. “But in the case of Danny Funt, I think he is one of the few students where we are still feeling the reverberations of his impact, specifically with the direction and tone of The Sandpiper.”

-Edie Ellison