Jason Abbruzzese Profile –
Something was wrong. CNN was breaking the news about the Boston Marathon bombings and things didn’t look good to Jason Abbruzzese. Abbruzzese logged onto his Twitter at the Financial Times and began pulling quotes from people at the marathon to show his boss.
“My editors weren’t really having that,” said Abbruzzese. “And understandably because if you’re the FT and you have high standards of journalism, social media did not — at least back then — seem like a reputable place to go.”
Abbruzzese continued to watch social media activity around the Boston bombings throughout the following days, including the Reddit witch hunt for a student accused of the bombings and the firefight that took place between the actual Boston bombers and Boston police.
“It was fascinating to see this online community evolving and trying to be reporters themselves,” said Abbruzzese. “That was one of the first times I was able to see the power of what the Internet can do as far as social media and coordinating information sharing online around events as they were breaking.”
Abbruzzese works as a media reporter for Mashable in New York City. He said he uses technology for his job in many different ways, but one of his most important uses is feedback. He uses technology to understand how stories are performing, find out who’s reading the stories, and how long they’re reading the stories for.
“I’m a big proponent of trying to talk to as many readers as I can,” said Abbruzzese. “A lot of them are very smart, and a lot of them know topics better than I do.”
Abbruzzese thinks a successful journalist should be well versed in any place discussion is present online. “The more you see intelligent people writing on important topics, the more you are going to learn,” said Abbruzzese.
Abbruzzese said he uses every outlet at his disposal, utilizing social media tools to find people for a particular story. “You still want to get out of the office,” said Abbruzzese. “But you do really need to have a pretty health appetite for exploration on these kinds of platforms.”
After a short time working in public television, Abbruzzese began working at the Financial Times as a web editor. He said he realized the large role technology had in journalism when he started spending time on Twitter. “That was when I started to see that people were having a very big conversation,” said Abbruzzese.
Abbruzzese thinks the way topics are approached and the way they are written are different at a digital media company, like Mashable, because there are no hard deadlines. He said the idea of a 9-to-5 publishing schedule is destroyed because the outlet is more like a television channel than a newspaper or magazine.
“If you think about a digital media company as a feed or a channel instead of a publication, you can see how that will change your day-to-day as a journalist.”
Abbruzzese said a digital media companies’ approach to news can lead a journalist to write more stories that interest readers, and draws journalists away from writing stories that benefit themselves, but not readers. “I don’t have space to fill in a paper,” said Abbruzzese. “I don’t have a deadline I need to meet or anything like that.”
Abbruzzese also thinks technology plays a large role in how journalists approach stories, allowing them to turn stories over quicker and dedicate a larger portion of their time to focus on bigger projects. “It makes the part of your job that shouldn’t be time consuming not very time consuming,” said Abbruzzese. “That has allowed me to focus on things that I really care about and drill down very hard on particular topics that I want to get ahead on.”
Journalism attracted Abbruzzese through the traditional caricatures of journalists depicted in movies and TV shows, like the Hudsucker Proxy and The Wire. “These guys were hard-ass reporters,” said Abbruzzese. “But they cared about the city they lived in, wrote about it and wanted to be good journalists.”
Abbruzzese achieved his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University in 2006. He said the journalism education he received was old fashioned, which interested him because he was being trained for few available job positions in a dying industry.
Abbruzzese continued his education career and achieved his master’s degree in international affairs from The Australian National University 2009. He said it wasn’t until he returned to journalism that he saw new, different jobs in the journalism industry.
“This was around the time when people were starting to operate under the assumption that the newspaper industry was dying,” said Abbruzzese. “But the Internet might end up becoming where these things flourish.”
Abbruzzese thinks future of journalism will entail briefer stories, and become less about doing the writing. “It’s so much quicker that I think the future of push notifications is going to have a huge impact on the future of journalism,” said Abbruzzese. “We’re already starting to see what appears on your smartphone has a very large impact on what you consume and what news you see.”
Abbruzzese has brought many things I did not consider about journalism to light. His emphasis on push notifications has led me to pay closer attention to its development in journalism. The ability to be malleable and learn many different methods for delivering the news is something that resonated with me. “If you only rely on your normal means of distribution, you’re only doing half of the job,” said Abbruzzese. I know I have to be a one-man band to be a successful journalist.