Professional journalist Andrea Smith came to Ramapo College on March 2 to talk about her experience in a field that has undergone – and continues to undergo – tremendous change over the past decade. She gave an informal presentation that covered her life as well as the technological impact on journalism in recent years, encouraging communication and questions throughout her discussion. This event was hosted by Lambda Pi Eta, Ramapo’s Communication Arts Honors society.
Smith explained that she graduated from Syracuse University with a major in English and a minor in journalism. She was born in Manhattan but had trouble finding journalism jobs in the city. Smith eventually wound up as a desk attendant for ABC News radio. There, she learned the importance of brevity.
“If you can’t say it in two minutes, you’re saying too much,” Smith explained, “You’ve got to nail them with that first line.”
The next portion of Smith’s career was centered on technology. She realized that a technology revolution was on its way, and she tried to stress this to her manager. When her urges were met with silence from ABC News, she told her friends at WABC TV, who then asked her to come on the show to talk about it. After this, Smith’s manager rewarded her with a technology broadcast five days a week.
Smith stayed at ABC for a year working her way up, but eventually decided that broadcast was not progressing quickly enough for her. She left ABC and became the Lifestyle Channel Editor for Mashable. There she worked with various people, including young journalists.
“I had a lovely experience with millennials,” Smith said, “but there were a lot of things that drove me crazy.”
Smith explained that even though millennials grew up with technology, it does not excuse carelessness and typos.
“That to me is really a sign of sloppy work,” Smith said.
She also advised young journalists to never take anything at face value, stating, “You have to check it yourself. Tell a story by knowing everything about it.”
Smith left Mashable after a year and has been working for herself since 2013. Today, she has her own digital communications business, Andrea Smith Media, LLC. She also writes for NBC News, HuffPost Tech, Popular Science and other publications, as well as cohosts CBS’s weekly Parenting Bytes podcast. Additionally, Smith annually speaks at the Consumer Electronics Show and is part of the Consumer Electronics Association Advisory Board.
Smith closed her presentation by discussing the future of journalism and giving advice to the audience. She challenged the notion that journalism is dead, especially given the current political climate.
“With our country so divided, people are very engaged and that’s a good thing,” she stated.
She went on to say that writers today need to be flexible and willing to progress and change.
“Change up your style depending on who you write for,” she stated, explaining that companies today constantly have to evolve and “if they’re changing, you have to change.”
The most important advice she wanted to give the audience was the same advice that her husband had once given her: “proceed until apprehended.” She told her listeners that if they wanted something, they had to go after it until they were stopped.
The presentation was enlightening for the young and aspiring journalists and communications students in the room.
“She actually gave really great resume tips and I’m probably going to do those things so I thought it was really helpful,” said Julia Augelletta, sophomore.
“She was really inspiring” her friend, Victoria Setteducati, sophomore, added.