9:30 a.m. and I found myself filing into Hearst Tower. Thanks to luck and a five -dollar bill, I was able to tour the magazine giants’ head quarters. With this, I learned more about the magazine industry. Hearst owns roughly 20 different magazines, with everything from Cosmopolitan to Popular Mechanics repping the iconic William Randolph Hearst brand. We first visited the Good Housekeeping section. Though it seems a little obvious, I was still surprised to discover that a large portion included high tech testing laboratories. With everything from washing machines to complete kitchen sets and rows of laptops, a huge part of Good Housekeeping is the product testing their reporter/engineers do.
Next stop was the Food Network Magazine branch. The Editor in Chief was kind enough to meet with us. For me, our round table discussion was another huge relief. Among other things, she said that when she looks at interns she doesn’t care about where they went to school or if they are journalism students. She cares about the experience they have had at newspapers, where she ensured us all was the best possible way to start out in the field, as opposed to pursuing graduate studies in journalism. As an aspiring reporter from a small university without a journalism program, this was monumental for me.
Whew. My world will not come crashing down on me upon graduation.
Back at the conference, I slipped into a seminar about finding and utilizing documents. The presenter helped me make sense of them what to look for, and what to do if I find anything of note. He also pointed out several important and helpful websites to use. I left with more reporter tools in my toolbox and some already budding ideas, though I won’t disclose those here… 🙂
After that, the conference participants filled the hotel’s largest ballroom for the closing keynote of NYC12. I was so excited for the presentation, as the speaker was David Carr, the former cocaine dealer infamously resurrected as a New York Times reporter. Plus, the guy is a movie star (Watch Page One, the documentary on the New York Times, everyone). His intro was brief. This didn’t surprise me, as I feel many reporters are accustomed to hiding behind those narrow little notebooks and our own inquisitive questions.
Most of his talk was about the metamorphosis journalism and reporting are currently immersed in. New media is becoming more prominent everyday, and more reporters are blowing up twitter and facebook and networking like mad. With print newspapers losing subscriptions and Ipad’s taking over the universe, Carr joked that the reporters of the future will be oddly robotic.
“Those days are over,” he said, bravely honest and unflinching. “Nothing stays written. It’s a rolling, organic process. Being a reporter is a lot more complicated than it used to be.”
Ok. Now I can anticipate my articles rotating from print, to web, to smart phone, tablet, and whatever comes next.
But I was scared. Technology is intimidating. What if I can’t keep up? What if I’m a good print reporter, but don’t have the chops to reach out to a web audience? I feel like I should hoard every shred of newsprint I can, like canned goods stocked in World War II air-raid shelters.
But Carr was fearless, and the fact of his professionalism was oddly soothing.
“The cool time to be doing what you are going to do is right now,” he said. “It’s right now. You have the tools of the insurgency in your hands.”
Everyone in the ballroom agreed. The thousands of budding journalists from across the country, from massive schools or community colleges or Ivy leagues, we were all nodding.
Empowerment. That’s what David Carr left us with.
So what did I do with this inspiration once he stepped down from the microphone? Decided to stalk him.
Just kidding, though I did close my time in New York City by taking a photo in front of the New York Times building.
Perhaps someday I’ll be on the other side of those glossy glass doors and flashing my badge to the security guards, instead of getting the incriminating stare down.
In closing, this conference was amazing, and more phenomenal than anything I could have hoped for. I am so thankful for the opportunity!
I’m headed back to UP with tactics to make the Beacon even more creative and great. But I’m also returning with the business cards of professionals, new college reporter friends, and perhaps most importantly, a new attitude.
Yes, journalism is changing. So, I will change as well.
As David Carr said, “be respectful, but never fearful.”
I’m sad to leave New York, but excited to share all I have learned back at UP. I’m looking forward to the last issues of the Beacon for the year.