Recent Purchase Graduate, Phil Corso, returned to the hallowed halls of the Humanities building to visit Prof. Donna Cornachio’s Journalism One class Tuesday morning.
Here’s what Prof. Cornachio wrote about the visit: “Grass doesn’t grow under Phil’s feet. A Purchase journalism major, he graduated last May 21; by May 24 he was working the beat at The Daily Harrison, the chain of hyperlocal community papers under the Main Street Connect umbrella. Now he’s about to move on to Queens, to report for The Bayside Times and Little Neck Ledger, part of the Times Ledger company recently acquired by Rupert Murdoch. In his talk to students he spoke about what it’s like to cover an older community where residents are not so familiar with “The Facebook,” having to file five stories a day, and what he’s looking forward to next.”
Here’s what Phil said:
I cover Harrison—the town you are all sitting in right now. The way Main Street Connect and Patch works is they put a reporter on the ground who covers the whole town: high school, sports, government, whatever it is. It’s exciting because it’s new, but also frustrating: you have to find and report five stories a day. You’re online, you’re constantly updating throughout the day, you’re on Facebook and Twitter. Harrison is an aging old Italian community—I’ll post a question on Facebook and maybe I’ll get someone to “Like” it.
The craziest day I had reporting was when the town clerk of Harrison died. He was a young guy, in his 30s and a loved member of the community. It was very sad. I covered the funeral first: that was Story 1; I still had to do four more stories. Then I had to go to the library where they had a petting zoo that day. I had just said goodbye to this young guy and here I was at the goddamn library.
Just last week two of my stories were about the library—one about them selling new tote bags to raise money. After a while you start feeling like you’re doing PR for the library and schools.
For my tryout [at the Bayside Times] they had me rewrite a press release on a gang assault in Queens—it was like a breath of fresh air.
Everybody knows you don’t go into journalism for the money. I’ve got a bunch of friends who graduated with me who are making big bucks in the corporate world.
At the same time, my job is cooler than everyone else’s. I’m really excited and proud to tell people what I do. I’m a reporter: my job is going around and talking to people. I do interviews with the county executive and then I’m on to something else. If you enjoy it and work hard enough, you’ll do well.
And as long as I have enough to buy a beer at the end of the day, I’m ok.