By Elle N.
To write for The New York Times is an honor that most journalists can only ever dream about. To be a contributor to one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world is nearly the highest career achievement a journalist can reach. Although they have not had any official publications in this particular newspaper (yet) two SEM juniors and co-presidents of Buffalo Seminary’s own newspaper, The Monocle, had the rare opportunity to experience the New York Times life firsthand.
This past summer of 2022, Mary Goetz and Katie Rooney ’24 were selected to attend The School of New York Times program in the Fordham at Lincoln Center campus in New York City where they acquired knowledge to kick start their journalism journey—a career in which both girls are interested in pursuing. Ironically enough, if it wasn’t for newspapers, Katie and Mary might not have ever gotten word of this opportunity!
An aunt of Katie’s read about the program in a newspaper and spread the message to Katie’s father who then shared the news to Katie who excitedly informed Mary. The pair knew that they could never pass up this opportunity and soon entered the competitive selection process which included an application of two 300 word essays and a few letters of recommendation. Did they get accepted? *drum roll*…of course they did! The duo stayed in dorms together as roommates over their two weeks in NYC and spent the fortnight taking classes in college classrooms, listening to guest speakers, and going on field trips, and when they weren’t in class, they went on adventures in the Big Apple.
In the words of Mary, “The schedules were the same for everyone in our class, so Katie and I spent basically all our time together. We woke up, went to our class that went from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a break for lunch, then we were free for the rest of the day with a curfew of 10-ish.”
What exactly did that free time after class consist of? “Nearly every day Katie and I went out to dinner after our classes and one night we went to a rooftop movie at a hotel to watch Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio which was pretty awesome,” Mary recalls as one of her favorite moments (and that sure is pretty awesome!). When asked about the coolest thing they learned during this experience, both girls had interesting and unique answers.
For Katie, she found it enthralling to learn about interviewing people on the street, and how practicing the act has helped her confidence. “It was pretty intimidating at first because a lot of people don’t want to be interviewed, but we went to different locations in New York like the One World Trade Center and a park in Brooklyn to interview people about different stories we were writing,” Katie explains. She continues to describe how being “forced to go out and talk to strangers about real topics helped me to grow more confident with it and I actually ended up enjoying it and finding it really interesting to hear different people’s opinions on issues I was reporting on.”
On the other hand, Mary’s answer was “just the process of getting a story.” During the two weeks, the girls were assigned stories to write, however, “when we spoke to the speakers that were brought in, they talked about just hearing or seeing something interesting and beating it down until they had the facts for a story,” Mary explained. Both of these skills are key aspects to journalism that Katie and Mary were enthusiastic about having the chance to learn about.
Katie and Mary walked away from this experience with invaluable takeaways about journalism and life. Katie mentioned that she now feels more “open to new things, such as new people and experiences.” She described how being in a different environment impacted her perspective and encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone. “I think that I learned a lot from my class and trying out different techniques of reporting which I hadn’t used before. I also think that I just learned from being around new people in a new city,” Katie added.
More specifically to journalism, Mary shared that her biggest takeaway was “the writing and editing process. Being able to condense nearly five sentences into one and a half sentences and still maintain your voice and point.” When reflecting on the overall experience, both girls found it—understandably—impossible to choose just one favorite memory. “Just waking up and being in New York, getting a coffee, going to class, everything,” Mary recollects as some of her best memories. For Katie, she “just loved being in New York!”
While in NYC, Katie particularly enjoyed how “there was always so much to do even after I got out of my class for the day. I also really enjoyed meeting new people who came from all around the world. Being in such a cool place with them allowed me to become pretty close with new people and I loved exploring the city with them doing things like going out to eat and shopping.”
To have the opportunity to learn from a program of world-class journalists was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the juniors. The lessons they learned and skills they gained will stay with them as they continue on their paths as writers and in life. Mary has been certain that she wanted to be a journalist for as long as she can remember and that “the ultimate goal is always the New York Times because of its reach and legitimacy.”
In respect to the New York Times, Katie reflects that “it was an amazing opportunity to get to learn through a program associated with them.” A general takeaway from this experience was that taking risks will take you somewhere, and to fearlessly pursue what you love! “It was really just an incredible experience for me and I think for everyone else involved. Katie and I grew as writers and as friends [as] roommates together for two weeks. If you’ve ever got an opportunity for a summer program of anything you might enjoy, especially if you travel for it, DO IT,” Mary exclaimed.
With the support of SEM and our school’s strong writing program, Katie and Mary were able to take what they learned from school, apply it to their talents, be accepted into this selective program, and build even more on their skills. Needless to say, this duo of juniors most definitely shared a memorable and worthwhile time in New York learning from The New York Times.