The Interviewees

In order to produce a successful article, I needed to find 4 types of sources:

  1.  A Subject:
    1. Jesse Erickson — The subject of the article.
  2. School Officials:
    1. Dawn Debiase — Assistant Dean in the Dolan School of Business
    2. Sue Peterson — Assistant Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences
    3. Heather Petraglia — Director of Office of Academic Support and Retention
  3. Admissions Ambassador:
    1. Christina Barry: Tour guide, class of 2015.
  4. A Second Opinion:
    1. Erin Connors: Transfer student from College of Arts and Sciences to Dolan School of Business, class of 2016.

Press Conference: Paul Grant

“The users want donuts but you have to give the broccoli to keep them coming back. If all they eat is donuts, they’ll wither away so you have to give them a balanced meal,” Paul Grant, Deputy Editor of ESPN.com recently told a group of young journalists at a press event.

The 47-year-old Toronto native is charged with managing content on one of the largest sports new sites online. On his site, he must curate a mixture of breaking news and updates within the world of professional sports. In addition, ESPN is also competing with the news published by the various professional sports’ networks.

“We’re influenced by them but we don’t try to replicate [it],” Grant said.

He further acknowledged the difficulty in providing an interesting spin on the trade and injury reports that often fill the news cycle.

“You’re the instant gratification generation. How you get news is different than how I got news,” Grant said.

Grant understands the reputation ESPN has as one of the top sporting brands in America and how it drives viewers to ESPN.com but knows that it’s his job to keep viewers coming back.

“If nothing happens in the week, we still have new and fresh content,” Grant said. “[It’s a] Good Mix of News, good mix of features.”

Part of keeping up with viewing trends is looking at the trends themselves and knowing when to publish the most important information. Grant cites 9:00 a.m. in each time zone to be the most popular time to check ESPN.com in the morning and noon for the most popular time throughout the day. In understanding these trends, Grant and his writers can curate the news at the time that has the highest traffic.

Another major part of ESPN’s different take on sports reporting is their platform Grantland, the “brainchild” of Boston blogger Bill Simmons. Grant finds Grantland to be an important part of ESPN because of its differences.

“It’s the antithesis of what we do,” Grant said.

Grantland was able to develop because Bill Simmons “outgrew ESPN” so the top editors used this platform as a way to keep him interested. Grant finds Grantland to complement ESPN.com well because it’s a different way of looking at sports reporting.

“Bill Simmons writes like he’s talking,” Grant said.

He thinks Simmons’ writing style makes him stand out and believes that the social media age is the perfect way to try new ways of writing, whether through online news, newspapers, or blogging.

Grant attributes ESPN’s success to a combination of “institutional arrogance” and adaptability. They’re not afraid to step outside the norm to cater to all sports fans, not just he 51% of men who view their site. The ability to change allows for the flexibility and freedom to take ESPN.com

Press Conference: Abby West

“My job is to make you not leave the site,” Abby West said.

West has made a career out of looking forward. The 41-year-old Executive Editor at Essence.com understands how fast digital news travels and has made it her job to report news first.

“What’s true today is not true a year from now,” West said.

When Essence was first published forty-five years ago, it was the only publication aimed at black women. At Essence.com, West has worked to transform the brand from the magazine that celebrates black women in the 1970s to a mainstream online publication fit for the digital age.

West never imagined herself in online journalism.

“I never thought this would be my career,” she said.

A self-proclaimed “newspaper girl,” West dreamed of being a columnist and credits a Dow Jones internship opportunity with opening her up to the field of journalism. With this newfound passion, West attended NYU before ultimately graduating from Queens College with a degree in political science and a minor in journalism.

West’s journalism career began with the Norwich Bulletin, a “boot camp” that allowed for her to learn the ins and outs of reporting. She soon moved to the Stamford Advocate where she worked long, hectic hours, before deciding to take time off to care for her young children, Warden and Sydney.

West wasn’t built for the stay-at-home lifestyle. She ran journalism workshops for local New York high schools and eventually returned to the professional world with EW.com after having worked at People, Teen People and Stamford Advocate.

“EW.com was my happy place. It was filled with pop culture geeks like myself,” she said.

In charge of TV show recaps, West received stories from her writers between the hours of midnight and 3 AM and had to edit and publish them online. This job gave more flexibility, allowing her to work from home and spend more time with her children. At EW.com, West chose to pursue a career as an editor.

“I took editor track instead of writer,” she said.

While at EW.com, West developed a site within the EW.com brand. The experience of launching her own pop culture site, eventually brought her to Essence.com, where she used her pop culture background and refocused it toward the demographic of Essence.

While West continues to look ahead at the next ways to improve Essence.com, she’s not looking ahead in her career. Even though there’s always something new to look forward to, she’s living in the present at Essence.com.

Press Conference: Maggie Gordon

“If something happens once, okay. If something happens twice, okay. If something happens three times, it’s a trend,” Reporter Maggie Gordon told a group of perspective journalists during a press conference event on Thursday.

The 27-year-old Greenwich Time columnist has made a career out of data. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse, Gordon is a product of the 2008 job freeze. After struggling to land internships from publications like Men’s Health and getting a job with Hearst Corporation after a year of looking, Gordon realized that she needed to set herself apart from the other thousand young journalists across the country.

“When I first got into journalism, I didn’t think I would be working with math,” she said. “What drew me to trends was that I love math and I love statistics.”

Becoming an expert with trends was no easy feat for Gordon, who found fellowships and workshops to train her to use. Using her passion for math and journalism to zero in on trends, Gordon was able to start a “Trending with Maggie Gordon” column for the Connecticut Hearst Newspapers where she uses data to write interest pieces revolving around Fairfield County.

Writing data-driven pieces has caused Gordon to learn to use on statistics found at data centers like Pew Center and the U.S. Census Bureau. Though most of the data she obtains is public information, much of it requires a Freedom of Information Letter requesting information, which at times can be a very difficult process.

“People always say that teachers and police officers who work in a place like Greenwich can’t afford to live there,” Gordon said, adding that she wanted to know if it was true.

Interested in whether or not teachers and police officers could live in the wealthy town they worked in, Gordon sent a Freedom of Information Letter, asking for home addresses for her subjects. The Letter was rejected and Gordon and Hearst ended up in court over the right to obtain addresses through the Freedom of Information Act.

Gordon and Hearst Corporation lost their case for access to information after it was determined that, “a zip code is an address.”

While Gordon describes disappointing moments in the field of data-driven journalism, she is quick to defend it.

“Data can be fun,” Gordon said.

Data-driven journalism is an important part of the journalism field. The world has become more technology driven and therefore data-driven. Despite this, Gordon warns that it is important to always be looking at the facts.

“A.B.C.: Always be checking, Gordon said. “If someone tells you that these are the statistics, I want to see the documents.”

Press Conference: Kerry Wills

TODAY contributor Kerry Wills covered everything from the Newtown tragedy to a love story sparked by Occupy Wall Street. Despite her diverse career, Wills considers herself to be a spot news journalist, an expert in her field.

“The hardest skill to develop is spot news,” Wills said. “It is a skill that’s getting lost.”

Wills’ career began at the New Haven Register, after a buyout shut down the small Milford newspaper that employed her. As a beat reporter, Wills was quickly molded into a skilled reporter leading her to the Stamford Advocate.

As an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, Wills wanted to write the “next great American novel” and considered a field in arts and entertainment writing, but her first job at a newspaper introduced her to the life of hard news.

While most reporters move on from hard news to become editors and staff reporters, Wills admits it can be easy to get stuck in hard news if you are adept at it. She kept at hard news as it took her to New York as a reporter for the New York Daily News.

When Wills began her career as a reporter in the mid-1990s, the news cycle was slower and reporters had more time to carefully craft their stories. As a longtime reporter, she has had the opportunity to watch the field of journalism evolve.

“Print newspapers will soon be a thing of the past.” Wills said.

As the Digital Age takes over, Wills knows her experiences as a hard news newspaper reporter have served her well. She is able to transition due to her diverse background within the field of journalism and understands the necessity to write short, attention-grabbing stories for her readers.

Wills has never regretted having the career that turned her into a hard news virtuoso. Wills has a lifetime of memories, including interactions with Bono, Gloria Steinem, and Regina Spektor, and has covered some of the most important events in the United States. While she has yet to become a mom, Wills takes comfort in knowing that when she finally does, the journalism community is rallied behind her.