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Alumni panel focuses on digital news world

By Amanda ValentovicSTAFF WRITER

Hofstra’s Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) hosted a panel on Nov. 10 called “How to Get a Job in the Digital Newsroom,” featuring four alumni who currently have jobs in the online media industry. About 80 students filled the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication’s Studio B to listen and ask questions of panelists Matt Silverman, Ryan Broderick, Lauren McCullough and Veronica de Souza about their experiences. A theme of the panel was how to gain experience, whether through an internship or writing for a website. One point that hit home with students in attendance was rethinking the idea of finding their “dream job.” The panelists emphasized that students should try to create their own dream job and take the steps to get there. Silverman, a Mashable editorial director, wants to throw the phrase out completely. “You can do anything you want; it’s up to you to make that dream happen,” Silverman said. Emily Kamen, president of SPJ, agreed. “Everyone always says ‘this is my dream job, I need to get there’, and it’s never going to happen,” said the junior journalism major after the event. “It’s up to you to formulate your own dream job and make sure you get to the spot you want to be at, not just put it up on a pedestal.” However, other details of working in digital media were discussed during the panel, including the nature of the job. “The Internet is free and wide open,” said Broderick, a 2011 graduate who writes for Buzzfeed News. The panelists agreed that having experience is important in any job search. De Souza said that working for smaller companies is recommended for anyone interested in working digitally because of the amount you can learn. “There are a lot of smaller companies and start-ups, and not only is it easier to get in the door, but you’ll have a lot more responsibility,” she said. Now an editor at Digg.com, de Souza believes the name of the company is not as important as the work being done. She fell into her job after creating a tumblr account called bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com – a reference to Mitt Romney’s infamous quote in the 2012 presidential debate here at Hofstra. The blog quickly became extremely popular and received hundreds of submissions overnight. All of the panelists also agreed that having an interesting presence online is significant for a journalist to be able to work on the Internet. A few factors McCullough described as important to a digital company included whether they are engaged with their audience and if they are following interesting people and publications. McCollough described several factors important to a digital company when searching for new employees, including audience engagement and whom the candidate follows on Twitter. McCollough, a Facebook editor stressed the effectiveness of attention to detail, being flexible and a sense of humor. “Funny people can diffuse tense situations, and usually being funny means you’re probably pretty smart.” The alumni stressed the importance of understanding the internet in order to work within the field. “Journalism is being transformed by social and digital media,” said Professor Kelly Fincham. “And our Hofstra alumni are really helping our students navigate the changing landscape.”

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