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Thursday

This morning we began our day at Reuters where we met Andrew Seamen, a senior medical journalist. He explained to us that Reuters is one of the world’s largest news organizations, but it is more commonly known in Europe. Similar to Bloomberg, Reuters sells terminals to buyers who then may access the stories and content. Reuters sells a lot of information about business and the stock market, but Andrew focuses on medical and health issues. Some of his content is centered within the LGBT community, and he is very knowledgeable about the Affordable Healthcare Act. While he reports on a topic that is not the main focus of the company, he said that he enjoyed not having to write for investors. A lot of people do a poor job reporting health stories, and he likes that he can truly analyze statistics and data in order to get the information right. He was also a part of the Society of Professional Journalism, and he told us about the long and somewhat painstaking process that was required to update the code of ethics that can be found online today. He stated that “journalism is the way democracy works,” and that someone has to create a standard for it.

Waiting in the lobby at Thomson Reuters.

We next traveled to Buzzfeed, and that was quite an exciting atmosphere. No employee looked a day over twenty-nine, and everyone dressed quite hip and casual. Some even hover boarded around the office, as if they had no regard for the fact that those things could blow up and burn their start-up to the ground. But nonetheless, it was refreshing to see such happy workers zooming around the workplace. We met junior animals writer Elaina Wahl and two of her colleagues, Shannon Rosenburg (assistant health editor), and Sarah Karlan (deputy LGBT editor). I was surprised to learn that Buzzfeed actually has a large investigative reporting team and that the website commonly reports hard news. But when I thought about it, it made sense that I was unaware. Most of the articles I find are through shares on Facebook, and my college friends are only interested in posting silly articles about sororities instead of the Syrian refugee crisis. It was also nice to hear how devoted they were to their content. Most other places we visited have a list of competitors that they are constantly aware of, but Buzzfeed employees’ only competition are themselves. They help each other with idea generation, and they seem like a close-knit family.

Laughing in front of an "LOL" badge at the Buzzfeed office with Kelly O'Bryan.

We then hopped on the subway and made it to Brooklyn to meet Alex Blumberg from Gimlet Media, which appeared to still be in its own beginning phases of production. Alex, the co-founder and CEO, had a long career in television and radio before he began his own company, and he explained the differences between the two mediums. In television, people like to see action and conflict, and one could put provocative pictures on a screen to accomplish that task; however, radio requires more of a narrative with an ongoing question, and sometimes an inner conflict can be more entertaining. When we hear someone’s voice, we tend to create a character to go with that voice, similar to when we read a book. This brings us closer to that person, creating a more intimate experience. In radio, it is really easy to examine and reflect upon a story from the past, but it is very hard to accomplish that on television.

After Gimlet, we walked to Vice Media and met Taylor Dolven, a journalist and researcher for the HBO television show that Vice produces. Taylor had a difficult time finding a job when she left college, and after no luck in New York, she decided to move overseas. She became a writer for an English paper in Argentina, and she simultaneously became fluent in Spanish. Now that she is at Vice, she spends a lot of her time researching, fact verifying, and source checking all the material that goes into each episode of the HBO series. As she explained, this show takes two-minute package stories and “delves deeper” to create fifteen minute, immersive stories. I find this smart, because while everyone might want more details that they could not get in a regular news broadcast, we also don’t have a great attention span to outlast fifteen minutes. Vice has hit that sweet spot of timing that has probably allowed the program to be successful for the past four seasons.

After a hasty trip back to Manhattan and a delicious Italian meal, we had the awesome opportunity to see Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon.” Having never been to New York, I anticipated this show all week, and I loved it! The musical focuses on a nineteen-year-old boy, Elder Price, who has just finished his missionary training and is ready to be sent to a destination for two years of Mormom missionnary work. To his dismay, he is paired with the most ecclectic boy in his class, Elder Cunningham, and he is sent to Uganda. He is astonished to see the poor condiitons, and the Mormons struggle to baptize the people in the village. Absolutely hilarious and enjoyable throughout, and a great way to end the day.


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