Professional Friday group visits Business Insider and WABC-TV

img_0540The School of Journalism was exposed to two different ends of the journalistic spectrum on Friday, October 28 during the latest Professional Friday trip to Business Insider and WABC-TV.

The day began at Business Insider, a digital-only news organization that launched in 2009. After a brisk walk from Penn Station to the Business Insider headquarters on Fifth Avenue, we all took a pause in the 8th floor lobby, just outside of the “War Room”. What appeared to be a small conference room suddenly erupted as more than twenty journalists filed out after a conference.

Shortly thereafter, our group was led by Leah Goldman, one of Business Insider’s Assistant Managing Editors. We went down to a 7th floor conference room, where we engaged in a lively discussion with herself and four other journalists from BI. Devan Joseph, a Senior Video Producer, kicked off the discussion about what their day to day tasks are, and how their careers began at BI.

Later on in the discussion, the topic shifted to how Stony Brook’s journalism students would be best suited to land a job or internship at BI. Tony Manfred, who is now a Deputy Editor for Insider, explained how he started out at BI as an intern back in 2011, working his way up from intern to more senior positions. Lyndsay Hemphill, an Assistant Managing Editor who oversees hiring, gave us tips on what Business Insider looks for in applicants, especially with what projects we should be doing while still in school.

Business Insider is far from a legacy news organization, and the atmosphere throughout their newsroom and offices reflected that. The dress code was more casual, card games were stacked on bookshelves outside conference rooms, and the remnants of a pumpkin carving contest were lined up in the kitchen.

Following Business Insider, it was a quick trip up on the subway to Columbus Circle and the ABC News headquarters. Next door to the ABC News headquarters is WABC-TV, the ABC station for Metro New York and flagship station for the network. Greeting us first was Stony Brook journalism student Julio Avila, who is currently interning with WABC’s 7 On Your Side. Avila gave us his take about working for the media giant, as well as tips for applying for internships like the one he has now.

After a chat with Avila, we were taken on a tour of the Live Kelly studio by Tracey Bagley, Senior Producer of WABC’s “Here & Now”. Bagley also gave our group tips on starting our careers, saying “learn everything because you’ll never know where you end up.” Bagley grew up on Long Island, and after starting out at News 12 Long Island, she moved to Philadelphia and Houston before returning to New York to work at WABC.

Later in our discussion about starting our careers in journalism, Bagley told us to think of internships and entry level jobs “as a residency”. She explained how while the pay may be low starting out, it’s the hands-on experience that makes it valuable, just like with surgeons beginning their careers.

With the clock striking 4:00, it was time for the tour to move to the WABC studio where the “First at 4:00” show was just beginning. We waited quietly outside of the studio for the next break, when meteorologist Lee Goldberg was giving a brief weather update outside. Bagley brought us to within a few feet of the anchor desk, whispering to us where things were and what they do.

As the weather segment was ending, the robotic cameras sprung into motion. Anchors David Novarro and Liz Cho appeared ready as ever to get back into the groove of delivering the day’s news. Spectating as a live audience, we watched for a few minutes as the WABC team produced the live broadcast.

During the next commercial break, we stepped back outside of the studio and ran into Sandy Kenyon, WABC’s Entertainment Reporter. Kenyon gave us more tips on starting our careers, including his biggest tip of keeping in touch with those you meet in the field. He explained how only a tiny fraction of students he meets ever remain in contact. Even if it’s just an email once or twice a year asking for advice on a story, or a semesterly update on classes, it’s those students who keep in touch that are at the forefront of his mind for future internships and job openings.

Following a quick elevator trip, the day ended with a tour of the WABC Newsroom. Despite the addition of a breaking news desk to get things on air quickly, WABC’s Newsroom was about the same size as Business Insider’s. That being said, the vibe was marginally different than at BI with a slightly more formal atmosphere, one without card games and displays of carved pumpkins. Overall it was a fantastic experience to visit two vastly different news organizations in one day, and to get so many valuable tips on launching our careers from both ends of the journalistic world.

Reporting by Josh Farber

Photos by Jill Ryan and Jasmin Suknanan