Stony Brook Journalism students on a field trip to Manhattan last week watched the staff of Bloomberg TV and the Associated Press cover the final rounds of the US budget sequestration fight and the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
At the world headquarters of the Associated Press, 10 Stony Brook students lined the walls of the “Nerve Center,” at 9:15 a.m. on March 1, when AP Deputy Managing Editor Tamer Fakahany gathered his team for two-way video calls to bureaus around the world.
Fakahany’s job is to comb the news from AP’s more than 2,000 reporters and editors worldwide, deciding which stories to emphasize in AP’s cascade of social media, print and broadcast reports.
He focused on an exclusive story from Johannesburg on Oscar Pistorius’ gun collection, the Rome bureau’s inside look at who will run the Vatican in the absence of a Pope and the D.C. bureau’s latest on the sequestration blame game.
After the meeting, Fakahany paused to answer student questions for an hour, describing AP’s intense old-school focus on getting stories right before posting them in contrast to recent rush-then-correct debacles at CNN and other global outlets.
Students grabbed a Starbucks in the AP building’s lobby and then hurried uptown to watch production of the live “Lunch Money” at Bloomberg’s glitzy headquarters on Lexington Avenue.
In the cab on the way to Bloomberg, junior Lindsay Campbell said the day trip to Manhattan gave her a clear sense of how fast she’ll have to work in professional newsroom. Graduate Student Bahar Gholipour said easy access to Manhattan’s media leaders is one advantage of studying at Stony Brook.
At Bloomberg, half the students perched in the dark control room, watching producers and technicians juggle the live shot from the White House, a live reporter in DC, a guest host in New York and the anchors on the set around the corner. The other half of the students stood at the perimeter of Bloomberg’s famous newsroom, watching the camera crew and producers serve up live and taped material for hosts and guests on the show.
Director of Programming Ted Fine then fed the students lunch and answered questions for an hour, along with four producers who worked on pieces for that day’s “Lunch Money” broadcast.
“My new life’s goal is to work there,” sophomore Rebecca Anzel said after the trip. “I’m a print person and I’m really interested in business. I’ve now decided to do the fast-track MBA here because of going to Bloomberg.”
Anzel said she’s not put off by the buzz around “The Test,” Bloomberg’s infamous method of weeding through its many applicants by checking their knowledge of business, economics and world news. “I like challenges and I like puzzles,” she said.
Informal field trips like the March 1 visits to AP and Bloomberg are organized by faculty outside of regular classes to keep Stony Brook’s journalism school on the minds of media leaders and to expose students to the work of top-flight professionals.
In this case, Professor Jonathan Sanders and Center for News Literacy Director Dean Miller organized the March 1 trip. Future Stony Brook University School of Journalism field trips will include face-time with Stony Brook graduates currently working in New York newsrooms.