Prof. Breen Takes Her Journalism Junior Seminar Students to The Journal News

Journal News Investigative Reporter Jorge Fitz-Gibbon talking to Purchase Journalism Students

Purchase Journalism Prof. Virginia Breen took more than two dozen Purchase journalism majors to The Journal News at media giant Gannett’s Harrison offices Wednesday, and saw firsthand how the digital revolution and economic downturn are changing the industry.

“Ten years ago, we couldn’t meet in this area because it was filled with sports reporters,” said veteran police and municipal reporter Rich Liebson. “They’re all gone now.”

While layoffs and restructuring have resulted in a leaner staff at the Lower Hudson Valley multi-media company, local content editor Joe McDonald noted that The Journal News has several editorial openings for reporters with “innovative spirits,” adept at using digital tools.

“How we do our jobs keeps changing,” McDonald said. “Our reporters don’t just write print stories, but generate content for all our platforms.” As he spoke, a staffer delivered new iPhone 4S’s to the newsroom, which reporters would use to shoot video packages and file stories from the field.

Investigative reporter Jorge Fitz-Gibbon, education and religion writer Gary Stern, and morning news editor Mike Meaney, meanwhile, also urged students to hone their writing and reporting skills.

“Don’t wait until you’re finished all your reporting to think about the writing,” said Stern, the author of “Can God Intervene? How Religion Explains Natural Disasters.” “I want to have a really good handle on my lede and where I’m going with my story once I start writing. I’m big on doing outlines.”

Fitz-Gibbon noted that while interviews and sources are vital, for an investigative reporter, “a document is worth 10 interviews.”

Journal News Local Content Editor Joe McDonald Talking to Purchase Students. photo courtesy of Kim Whitehead

Liebson offered more practical advice about being prepared. “Weather matters,” he said. “If it’s cold out, your pen won’t work. Bring a plastic bag. Your editor doesn’t want to hear that you can’t read your notes because they’re soggy.”

Students heard some encouraging news.

“This is absolutely the best time to be doing what we’re doing,” said Anjanette Delgado, The Journal News/’s interactivity editor. “The tools are so much better these days, and more and more people are reading the news.”

– Story courtesy of Prof. Breen

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