MU alumnus John Haskins shares journalism career advice, experience with students

He has been working at the New York Times for 29 years.
John Haskins, MU alumnus and director of The New York Times Student Journalism Institute spoke at MU on March 14, 2019. Courtesy of Twitter via @NABJ_MU

Students gathered in Fisher Auditorium on Thursday, March 14 to hear about John Haskins’ career journey and hoping that his insight could help them plan their own career paths in journalism.

The MU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and Online News Association Mizzou hosted John Haskins, MU School of Journalism alumnus and director of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, who discussed how his MU journalism education and experience contributed to his 29-year career at the New York Times.

“We try to bring an MU alum every year, because we think it’s important for current students to see that students like them can work for companies like the New York Times,” Kaleigh Feldkamp, junior and vice president of ONA Mizzou, said. “Today, John really emphasized that the education we’re getting is valuable and worthwhile and can help us succeed in media.”

After graduating from MU, Haskins was an editorial intern at 13-30 Corporation, a former publishing company in Knoxville, Tennessee. During his time there, the name of the company changed to Whittle Communications. After that, he was a copy editing intern at the Minneapolis Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

After this internship, he applied to a newspaper called the New York Newsday in suburban New York, where he worked as a copy editor and deputy graphics editor for two years.

During his time at the New York Times, starting in April 1990, he has held several positions, including managing editor of the New York Times Magazine and managing editor of the New York Times Styles Magazine and has worked in four different international cities: New York, Paris, London and Hong Kong.

Now, he is the director of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, a 16-day pre-internship program designed to prepare college student journalists for internships and jobs.

“It is a program that was started in 2003 as a diversity program as a sort of industry give back to help increase the pipeline of diverse journalists going into the industry,” Haskins said. “We’ve always had interns at the New York Times. We found out that a lot of people weren’t ready for it and that we could do something more.”

He also shared lessons he has learned throughout his career along with advice for current journalism students, including the importance of making valuable contributions to organizations.

“Make yourself indispensable or simply valuable to an organization,” Haskins said. “Pretty much every job I’ve ever gotten, every posting I’ve ever gotten, wherever it happens to be, it was because somebody trusted me.”

Haskins also said employers will look beyond work experience and skills to make sure an applicant can be trusted as a person before being considered for higher positions.

“Of course you have the skills, but if someone’s going to give you more money, give you a promotion, give you more responsibilities, they need to trust you,” he said. “Usually they trust you because yes, they look at your work, but they want to know you as a person, they want to know that you’re hardworking, that you meet deadlines, that you get along with people.”

Graduate student Abby Ivory-Ganja said she enjoyed hearing about Haskins’ experiences and learning about his success in his career path.

“It’s awesome to see a Mizzou alum be successful,” she said. “I always find that really encouraging.”

Many attendees expressed interest in possibly moving to New York to pursue their career because of the large number of opportunities available. Haskins said there are just as many opportunities available in other cities around the country.

“The first thing you have to think about is where you’re going to be learning the most,” he said. “There are a lot of other places and other companies where you can get as much experience as you can in New York. You really have to look at what your next learning experience will be.”

Edited by Emily Wolf | ewolf@themaneater.com

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