On Friday, February 2nd we kicked off our Site Visit program for the spring semester with a trip to Bloomberg News. Our hosts were gracious Columbia alumni, Janet Lorin and Nick Summers. They welcomed a group of 20+ undergraduates to the Bloomberg offices in midtown New York City.  The Columbia College alumni shared their experience of working for one of the most dynamic companies in the world and more specifically, the interesting work of a journalist.

Build credibility by writing for those who will publish you

Janet Lorin shared advice that credibility is key in journalism. She suggested that to build credibility you must write and be published as much as possible and build a portfolio that is ready to be shared upon request. A good way to gain experience is to write for publications while at Columbia. Lorin gained experience by writing for The Spectator throughout college. She also suggested looking for smaller market publications to get a start.

Lorin stressed that journalism is a meritocracy and your major or GPA are less important than your drive and quality of writing. She also recommended working across mediums including radio, magazines, television, and digital to gain a wide variety of experience and exposure to the industry. It is also important to read the publications you are interested in working for and connect with them when possible. 

Group during Q&A session

How to stand out on the job

Our hosts shared that internships are a good way to show your interest and make an impression in the newsroom. They encourage students to:

  • Show up and be prepared
  • Call people back to make sure you understand the information provided
  • Take initiative and don’t take no for an answer
  • Think digitally when thinking about the story; design is an important part of story, as is data visualization 
  • Pitch ideas all the time; don’t wait to be assigned a story
  • Fact check every data point

uncovering a story

Lorin and Summers suggested that stories come from breaking a topic down into small pieces and then ask experts questions to understand those pieces. The advice was to listen. People tend to fill the space if you give them the room to speak. Summers and Lorin both agreed that the best stories come from the ideas you generate.  Don’t wait to be asked to produce content. 

Determining personality FIT

Our hosts noted that journalists don’t need to be personable. Journalists have to dig and research privately and need to keep stories secret. They also have to be persistent and follow up continuously to get the information they need.

Working at Bloomberg News

Our hosts stressed that at Bloomberg the culture promotes transparency, communication, and collaboration. The physical space facilitates this culture. They have glass conference rooms, live radio and TV broadcasts streaming, and active Bloomberg terminals for journalists to use in their work. They stressed that ideas and innovation are central to the success of the company.

Our Site Visit Program

Want more insider industry information like this? Check out our event calendar to see our upcoming Site Visits. New events are posted regularly.