On Monday, Oct. 21, the Syracuse SPJ had the incredible opportunity have breakfast with acclaimed journalist Scott Shane. We discussed the current state of journalism, Shane’s own journalistic history and general career advice.
Scott Shane is a New York Times reporter who reports principally on the U.S. intelligence community and national security. He is currently on leave to work on his upcoming book, which will be his second in addition to his 1995 book “Dismantling Utopia: How Information Ended the Soviet Union.”
Our talk with Shane started off with the important acknowledgment that, for any college student, waking up before 8 a.m. was an incredible feat. Shane then recounted his journalistic history, chronicling his journey from stumbling into the industry, working at The Baltimore Sun and then finally arriving at The New York Times.
Shane actually never majored in journalism; he was an English major who aspired to travel to Russia and earn a PhD in Russian literature. He wanted to get a year or two of real world experience before starting his PhD, so he began working at a small, local paper before working at The Baltimore Sun.
In the process, Shane did travel to Russia where he witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union, on which his book is heavily based. Today Shane can say that the experiences he witnessed and went through, as well as the interesting characters he met, were a result of his career in journalism, and values them greatly.
After reflecting on Shane’s history with journalism, we discussed this industry at its current state. He noted that print jobs are dying off in favor of digitally-focused jobs. He also noted that journalists are moving to different careers since the skills accumulated in this industry are highly favored in other industries, such as concise writing, critical thinking, and handling large amounts of information.
We also spoke about how we personally get our news. Twitter, various news curating apps and, of course, The New York Times being the most common.
This talk was an incredible opportunity to get an on-the-ground view of modern journalism. The Syracuse SPJ is very glad we had the opportunity to meet with Scott Shane. His humble interaction with this group of aspiring journalists was an experience none of us will ever forget.