What has your career/education path been like since graduating?
I worked for a small community newspaper chain immediately after I graduated from the master’s program at BU’s College of Communication, in 1995, learning how to develop sources and cover government basics in the suburbs of Boston. From there, I worked for many years at the now (sadly) defunct Phoenix alternative newspaper (both for Worcester and Boston), and cut my chops as a beat and an investigative reporter. I moved onto the Village Voice and then, in 2007, landed at the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to investigative reporting in the public interest. I have had an opportunity to do meaningful journalism all along the way. I can honestly say that, as an investigative reporter, there is no better profession.
Why did you choose your particular field of study at COM?
I focused on print journalism — it was either print or broadcast journalism then and, for me, print has always been where it’s at. I took as many narrative journalism and magazine writing classes as I could both semesters in my year at BU’s graduate program to try to perfect the art of long-form narrative journalism. While people in our business talk a lot about new forms of story-telling, I still believe that some of the most powerful, moving and consequential pieces of journalism today are told via the written word.
What skills from the program have you found most valuable?
I enrolled in COM’s graduate journalism program back in the mid-1990s, when the Internet was almost a novelty. Certainly, there was no sense of the disruption the web would cause print journalism. I remember taking a class featuring Netscape as primarily a research tool. Because of this rapidly changing technological landscape, I am sure the program I experienced is very different today. So much of what I learned from the program that I still value today has to do with the intensive narrative-writing classes I took. There’s no doubt in my mind I am a better writer and editor because of the grueling narrative-journalism classes I took from such professors as Mark Kramer, who I believe still runs the BU Narrative Conference. As a working journalist for 20 years now, I have yet to receive the kind of intense attention to improving my writing that I had the privilege receiving as a graduate student at BU.