Columbia J-School Makes Push to Connect With Alt-Weeklies

In recognition of alt-weeklies’ excellence and its students’ growing interest in this lively and increasingly influential media, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism has joined AAN as an associate member.

Columbia J-School is participating in this year’s annual AAN convention in Portland, and Career Services Coordinator Gina Boubion will be on hand to talk about the school, its programs and how Columbia can better serve AAN and its members.

Boubion said she hopes to accomplish two things in Portland — talking to prospective students about mid-career programs at Columbia, and connecting with editors who are looking to hire both entry-level and more experienced journalists.

“Many of our students have trained in the art of long-form narrative journalism and go on to impressive careers — Willamette Week’s Nigel Jaquiss from the Class of 1997 comes to mind,” Boubion said. “It’s just a matter of getting the word out to editors that we’ve got a whole pool of talented reporters who are eager to earn their reporting chops and write great stories at the alt-weeklies.”

She said that more than half of the print journalists in the class of 2007 are interested in careers in alt-weekly and magazine journalism. “When I left journalism school 20 years ago, all the print majors wanted to go into daily newspapers,” Boubion said. “That’s changing, as dailies have lost circulation and cut news hole. Our current students have clearly set their sights on publications that will allow them to write and really dig deep into the reporting.”

She added that many members of the class of 2007 had journalism experience before they arrived at Columbia, or worked as magazine, online or newspaper interns during their school year in New York City. “Some of the students had many years of experience and were looking to fine-tune particular reporting specialities” such as arts and culture, politics, science and business.

“The trend is clear, at least from our perspective in Career Services — every year more and more of our students come to Columbia to advance their investigative and narrative skills, and they’ve definitely gotten the message from us and their professors that the alt-weeklies are fertile ground for doing the kind of journalism they crave to do.”

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