NY Daily News Editor Shares Insight With Students

James Harney, deputy suburban editor of The New York Daily News, visited St. John’s on Monday, April 7, where he shared his experiences in journalism and gave aspiring reporters advice on what it takes “to get a foot in the door and to succeed.”

Harney, a graduate of New York University, has been with the Daily News for a total of 28 years. According to the editor, he began his career with The Star Ledger, a New Jersey newspaper, where he proofread articles before progressing to cover stories on local crime and fires.

Eventually, Harney was offered an entry level job at the Daily News covering any breaking news that occurred at night.

The NYU grad called the experience “a wonderful way to hone [my] writing skills”.

Harney would go on to become a general assignment reporter, writing articles on anything from celebrities to politics.

Harney said that when writers of the Daily News went on strike in the ’90s, he was forced to look for another job. He quickly landed a job at USA Today covering national news. Harney recalled one particular assignment when he flew out to Los Angeles to cover the beating of Rodney King and the trial that followed the incident.

After several months, Harney received an offer to come back to the Daily News. He would go on to accept the offer but, instead of returning as a reporter, he took a position as an editor at the suburban office in Brooklyn, where he currently works today.

One piece of advice Harney gave to student journalists is to not be afraid to seek out opportunities outside of New York.

“There are stories out there all over this land that need covering,” he said. “There’s so much more ability to do this outside of New York City rather than inside New York City.”

Harney also advised student to be “fully versed” in different aspects of online journalism, since the field is placing more emphasis on instantaneous news and coverage.

Regarding internships, the Daily News suburban editor suggests potential interns adopt a “just say yes” policy and to try and take as many assignments as they can.

Harney went on to warn that a common mistake young reporters make is that they fail to anticipate the increase in demands from college to professional journalism.

“You could have gotten A’s in all your classes and be liked by all your college professors. That’s not going to mean a thing when you get out there [in the real world] and start reporting,” he said. “You don’t even know deadline pressure in college.”

Kasheda Daum, a student, felt Harney’s lecture gave her a bit more insight into the world of professional reporting.

“I felt like he gave good pointers on how to get started and connections,” she said. “[Journalism] is intimidating, but you have to be eager.”