Journalism Student Defends Her Appraisal of New York Times Newsroom

A follow-up with St. Bonaventure University EIC Hannah Gordon.

The most popular FishbowlNY post for the past two weeks has been “Journalism Student Decides New York Times Is Not For Her.” Our Jan. 27 item, about St. Bonaventure University undergrad Hannah Gordon’s visit to the paper and her subsequently expressed disappointment with the newsroom vibe, was picked up that same day by Jim Romenesko, sparking a very active discussion in the Facebook comments.

Given all this attention, we thought it only fair to check back in with Gordon to see what she thought about her peers’ largely critical view of her disappointment with the “sterile” NYT environs. Gordon, editor in chief of school newspaper The Bona Venture, clarifies that Tap Into Greater Olean, the site from which we sourced her thoughts, is a classroom project and that she was specifically asked by a pair of professors to put something together about her Jan. 13 NYT field trip.

“The coverage generated a lot of talk [on campus], but I received nothing but support,” Gordon says. “Some of my peers approached me and said they understood my perspective, and it seems like every professor in the J-school has told me that I have every right to have and express my opinion. Some of them have even urged me to write a follow-up column.”

As one might expect, Gordon was in touch after the flurry of Jan. 27 coverage with Margaret Sullivan and several other NYT folks she met during the visit. “Each of them wished me well and had no hard feelings,” she notes. “Like I wrote in the column, I wasn’t bashing The Times; it’s just not what I want right now. They understood where I’m coming from. I read at least one story from The New York Times every day. I have an immense amount of respect for the journalists who work there, but they work there for a reason. It fits them.”

“Understanding whether or not a workplace culture will suit you is imperative to your success and happiness, as well as your performance in the workplace,” she stresses. “I know I will thrive in a creative, collaborative environment. There were comments on Romenesko’s post that painted me as an entitled millennial, but I don’t think that’s fair. My column was about cultural fit.”

NYtimes building“Just because I don’t think I’d fit into the culture of The Times right now means that I know where I’ll thrive and what kind of company will benefit from employing me – not that I think I’m somehow better than The Times.”

Gordon explains that a professional start at an outlet like, say, DigitasLBi, New Era or Mashable would feed off the hours she spent at The Buffalo News. “I have never been prouder of my work than during my time there,” she states. “I developed relationships with editors and reporters that I still keep in contact with. It’s that “City of Good Neighbors” vibe that I love.”

In addition to the Buffalo daily, Gordon has interned as a reporter at hyperlocal online magazine Buffalo Rising. She’s also worked as a contributing writer for USA Today College. On campus, she has remained equally active, not just as EIC and editorial board member for The Bona Venture but also as a DJ for WSBY The Buzz and through her involvement with the campus chapter of the American Advertising Federation.

As far as those who mocked Gordon for spelling “camaraderie” in the Tap Into item as “comradery,” she would like those critics to visit the following link. “Sometimes, us dumb millennials know what we’re talking about,” Gordon writes with a wink (the interview was done via email).” She’s right and we stand corrected, as we made mention of this in the FishbowlNY comments.

Gordon says that although she aims to graduate in December, she may also choose to extend her undergraduate studies to the full four years. She told us she is also weighing the option of graduate school.

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