|photo courtesy of Elizabeth Zanghi, Ram photo editor|
When I first met Connor Ryan three years ago at a production night for The Ram newspaper, I immediately thought him intelligent and personable, if somewhat quiet. Looking back on our initial encounters, I wonder how I missed the determination and passion for reporting glinting behind the lens of his thickly-rimmed glasses. During his time at Fordham, Connor has quickly risen up the ranks of The Ram, securing the editor-in-chief position as a second-semester sophomore, while simultaneously taking on multiple journalism internships and a job as news manager at WFUV, Fordham's NPR-affiliate radio station. Connor knows more about the world of journalism than anyone else I know at Fordham, so I couldn't wait to interview him!
Major: Communication and Media Studies
Hometown: Darien, Conn.
Clubs/internships: Editor-in-Chief of The Fordham Ram, News Manager at WFUV (NPR-affiliate), Collegiate Correspondent for USA TODAY, News Intern at Newsday
What kinds of opportunities has Fordham afforded you that might not have been possible at another school?
When it comes to journalism, Fordham has provided me with strong academic training and incredible hands-on experiences — a necessary combination for anyone trying to break into the industry. The communication and media studies major offers a wide array of courses for students interested in studying journalism. And outside of the classroom, it’s easy to gain extracurricular experience whether it’s at The Ram, WFUV or Fordham Nightly News (the on-campus television channel). I feel lucky to be a student here.
How would you describe your experience serving as The Ram's editor-in-chief?
Working as editor-in-chief of The Ram has been — and always will be — one of the greatest honors of my life. Asking questions and exploring issues on campus on behalf of the student body is a great privilege, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it. Plus, most of my best friends at Fordham I’ve met at The Ram.
I know you are an avid tweeter and that a social media initiative was one of your primary focuses as EIC. Can you explain how you have seen social media change the world of journalism and communication, and talk a bit about what you think the future has in store for journalists?
It’s amazing to see the influence social media has had on the journalism industry. The first place I go when I wake up in the morning to get acquainted with the news and how people are reacting to it is Twitter. Social media has totally been a game-changer, but I’m just a kid, so it’s really all I’ve ever known. I think the role of social media will only grow to be larger in the future.
What is your favorite part of reporting for Fordham's radio station, WFUV?
The best part of reporting for WFUV is working beside reporters from The New York Times and NBC News at a Mayor Bloomberg press conference in Manhattan. I think the most effective way to learn about journalism is to actually get your hands dirty and begin producing work. And that field experience is held in high regard at WFUV. Students are given the same credentials major news organizations are given, we’re sent into the field to do our reporting and then a few hours later we’re on the radio delivering the news to hundreds of listeners. And because the station is affiliated with National Public Radio, we will occasionally file reports for national newscasts that are heard throughout the country. It’s incredible experience.
In addition, the mentorship at WFUV is simply unbeatable. Not only are George Bodarky (News Director) and Robin Shannon (Assistant News Director) tremendously talented journalists, but they are also some of the best teachers I have ever had. WFUV launched my career, and I’ll always be proud to say that.
If you could have any job in the world following your graduation from Fordham, what would it be?
My hope is that after graduation I’m still typing — ideally for a newspaper or news website in New York City.
Do you have any advice for the high school juniors and seniors currently applying to colleges who are aspiring journalists?
Plan ahead! When thinking about where to go to college, consider a variety of factors: academic programs, extracurricular offerings, geographic location, alumni network, etc. Look for nearby internship opportunities. Explore the websites of college newspapers. Look at the journalists that have graduated from the school. But ultimately, go where you think you’ll be happiest. I think it can be counterproductive to overanalyze the decision.
Be passionate, but keep and open mind. The journalism landscape is constantly evolving, and you’ll need to be fluent in a wide range of mediums and platforms — print, video, radio, web, social media, etc. — if you want to be successful. It’s true, the corners of journalism are folding onto each other, but don’t pay attention to the naysayers. The industry is alive and well — in fact, it needs you!
Be persistent and work hard.
Fordham students are doing amazing things. Stay tuned for next month's Student Spotlight!