Against this backdrop of the illusion of meritocracy, contrary to what Best said in the interview, I argue that Substack does not free journalists from the need to game the social media algorithms. Instead, Substack primarily serves those who have already successfully “gamed” the algorithms — those that have already been rewarded with attention, fame and popularity on existing social media platforms, particularly Twitter.
As I reflect on my time at Cornell, The Sun will shine brightly as one of my most lasting and positive experiences. Not because it jump started my career as a journalist or gave me the thrill of seeing my name attached to a published piece, not because it allowed me to speak to science luminaries like Steve Squyres or Carla Gomez (although I covet the audio recordings of our interviews), but because I got to work with and learn from a talented team of passionate writers, reporters and friends. Working as a writer and editor for The Sun primarily taught me about journalism, but it also taught me about myself (cheesy, I know). Ultimately, it solidified my long-held appreciation for good writing and reporting. What I learned about journalism, through my time at the Sun, is reflected in the words of author John Irving — “Before you can write anything, you have to notice something.” It is the responsibility of a journalist to report on what is noticed and, importantly, what people fail to notice.
I joined The Sun in fall 2017 for reasons I no longer remember, but I was certain that I would not last a semester. I had never done any journalism in my life, and before college, I had never written anything in English more than 300 words. Somehow, I stuck around and even made it to editorship, but every single day I was down at The Sun’s red brick office in the Commons, I questioned if I was qualified to be there. When I had to call the shots on something, I wondered if the swarm of talented people in the newsroom was actually convinced by my reasonings, or if they were just being nice. I’ve been hyper-aware of who I am since the very beginning of my time in this country, when a customs officer at John F. Kennedy airport commented on how well I speak English “for a Chinese student” as he stamped my passport.
Marc Lacey ’87, the national editor for The New York Times, returned to his alma mater Tuesday evening to discuss his long standing career in journalism in which he filed stories from Nairobi, Kenya to Mexico City, Mexico.
Marc Lacey ’87, national editor for The New York Times, will be the first journalist to visit Cornell as part of a new Distinguished Visiting Journalist program hosted within the College of Arts and Sciences beginning in the Spring semester.
BIOG 1250 on Scientific Journalism will help students walk through each step of reporting; what’s the difference between a topic and a story angle? How do you go out and report? How do you get quotes? How do you do the research?