By Taylor Clarke
Newsday’s senior leadership team offered an exclusive opportunity to the Hofstra community during an event that featured professional accounts from the medium’s leading publishers and editors.
Aspiring journalists, Hofstra students and members of the community packed the Guthart Cultural Center Theater to understand how publishing decisions are made and how the pieces of a daily news operation come together. Newsday, serving Long Island, informs the community on a national and local scale and embraces the latest technologies.
The event, held on Wednesday, Nov. 8, was hosted by the Hofstra Cultural Center. The panel consisted of Edward Bushey and Debby Krenek, co-publishers of the Newsday Media Group; Deborah Henley, editor and vice president; and Rita Ciolli, editor for the editorial and opinion pages. The discussion was moderated by professor and chair of Hofstra’s Department of Journalism, Media Studies and Public Relations, Cliff Jernigan.
The discussion began by recognizing Thomas Aquilina, winner of the 2017 Newsday Scholarship. Aquilina, a freshman journalism major, believes the growing partnership between Hofstra and Newsday can help to motivate students and provide more opportunities.
“I think that it can help, not only just the financial help, which is obviously big, because it’s not easy to just come here. It’s obviously not cheap. But it also kind of motivated me,” Aquilina said.
Aquilina said that he felt honored and humbled upon receiving the scholarship. “I need to make sure that I work harder and make sure that I’m doing as much as I can, which I already was. But it motivated me even more.”
Jernigan had surveyed journalism students in various courses at Hofstra prior to the event. Jernigan’s first question for the panel was about serving the community.
“In many ways, Newsday created the concept of Long Island,” Ciolli said. She said that Newsday works diligently to find the common trend among all areas of Long Island. This concept helps to engage the audience.
Henley added that the main strategy is finding larger trends among community members. “The heart of Newsday is its local coverage,” she said.
Today’s media landscape has expanded to include a variety of social media platforms, advanced applications, streaming devices and online reading services. Jernigan questioned the panel on how audience engagement has evolved to incorporate and adapt to changing technologies.
“Audience is not about a product or platform. Our audience wants us in a variety of platforms,” Bushey said. Bushey compared this topic to shopping for a specific brand both in stores and online, as each medium provides the shopper with a different experience. Similarly, in news, a story can be told in a variety of ways using different platforms.
Krenek believes it is crucial for Newsday to continue experimenting. She emphasized the need for the organization to understand all social media platforms and devices like Apple TV and Amazon Echo to ensure that a larger audience is being reached. “It is important for us to be where the Long Island community is,” she said.
The panel also opened the floor to questions from the audience. Attending guests expressed concern over how Newsday maintains public trust on both a local and national scale. Audience members also asked how the media landscape will shift over the course of the next five years.
Henley described the open line of communication between readers and employees of the organization. “We make sure to cover accurately and straightforwardly,” she said.
The panelists explained that the transformation of the traditional print business into a multimedia operation is providing more space for interactivity with an audience.
Henley said, “Media is merging. The strong entities five years from now will be those that listen to what the audience wants.”