Letters to the Editor

What I Learned at the New York Times

New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan with Hannah Gordon.
Hannah Gordon by the "Pulitzer Wall" at the New York Times

As a journalism student at St. Bonaventure University, I have listened to professors who constantly told me how important experience is. My mentors emphasize internships, and I remember hearing “Even the bad experiences are important because then you know what you don’t want to do.” I never thought I would have that bad experience. I knew what I wanted, and I worked, and I loved it.

Earlier this month I visited the New York Times newsroom because I had been invited to review my resume and clips with the head of the Student Journalism Institute. After arriving, I met with a fellow Bonnie, columnist Dan Barry. He showed me around the near-silent newsroom and took me to a glass-walled room where we discussed our shared Bonaventure experiences and my activities and upcoming classes. Mr. Barry was kind, and I was thrilled to meet someone I greatly admire.

Next, I met with Richard Jones, who coordinates the internship program at the Times. Mr. Jones came ready with ideas to help me improve my clips and resume for a career as a journalist. He was sure to tell me that all the changes he suggested were to tailor my presentation as a serious reporter. He complimented my ambition and work experience and suggested I make a second digital portfolio to cater to the more journalistic and less artistic people who would be reviewing my applications in the future. I don’t think he was fond of the shooting stars and flying bats I featured on my original portfolio.

Sign Up for E-News

Finally, I met Margaret Sullivan, the public editor. She’s from my hometown, Lackawanna, and offered advice and other contacts for me to network with. Then she asked how I liked the Times—and I was honest.

I told her I was disappointed. Since my journalism career path began, I had my sights set on writing for the New York Times. It was my idea of “Yeah, kid, you made it.” But when I visited, I did not find the bustling, comradery-filled newsroom I imagined. My visit made me realize it was sterile journalism. While I longed to have my name and picture on its wall of Pulitzer Prize winners, I knew I wouldn’t fit in to the culture there. I knew I wouldn’t be happy in a place where I couldn’t fully express my creativity and quirkiness while still producing solid copy and respectable work every day. My talk with Ms. Sullivan helped me realize that.

The New York Times isn’t for everyone. And it’s okay if it’s not for me. I’m just glad I had this experience because, as my professors would say, now I know what I don’t want to do. 

# # #

Hannah Gordon is a St. Bonaventure University student majoring in journalism and mass communication and a minor in women’s studies.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

Understanding the Tough Times at The Buffalo News Can Lead to Brighter Future for the Newspaper 

Given the fiscal state of the news industry, the changes underway at The Buffalo News are not unique. To offset revenue losses, newspapers across the nation have bid farewell to longtime reporters, eliminated once-popular sections and removed jobs that involved covering important beats, such as education, the environment and transportation. 

What makes the ...

Grandpa Practiced Sustainability

My grandpa was of the Depression Era. Sustainability wasn’t “a thing” back then — it was just the way you lived. Though he was raised in a time when you were thankful to be able to put a good meal on the table, he likely had a standard of life that we would consider average or middle class today. He didn’t grow up in a slum or shanty town, but he did understand the ...

'March for Our Lives' Started A Historic Movement

Shoes on the ground. People chanting. Signs held high. Music playing in the background.

It is the start of a historic movement. A moment when every race, gender and age came together as one. A movement that involved change and a March for Our Lives.

As a student journalist going out to the world, taking part in a national movement truly moved me. Reporting the significance of March for ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, June 18, 10:00 AM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Local History Research Sessions


Tue, June 19, 9:00 AM

The ReHabilitation Center, Olean

ReHab Center Schedules Hiring Event for June 19

Business & Finance

Tue, June 19, 12:30 PM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Brown Bag Book Club


Olean General Announces Schedule for June 21 Strawberry Festival

June 13, 2018

OLEAN, NY -- The 32nd annual Olean General Hospital Auxiliary Strawberry Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., June 21 on the front lawn of the hospital, 515 Main St. 

In addition to the more than 80 pounds of strawberries used to serve strawberry shortcake, the event will offer sausage sandwiches, hot dogs, Texas hots, a baked potato bar, drinks, baked goods, craft items, ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...