Ashley Richardson ’15 had to meet me.
That’s what Lissa Scull Short ’83 told her. Ashley, a junior for Hempstead, has an interest in journalism and I lead the digital team in the newsroom of lohud.com and The Journal News in White Plains.
And so, on Jan. 31, at the Alumni Executive Council’s annual Mocktail career networking reception, Ashley introduced herself to me. We spoke at length about her interest in writing, her work for The Hill News and her impressions of a media landscape that’s still in the throes of a digital renaissance. As our conversation wound down, Ashley asked if she might shadow me for a day in our newsroom. I instantly said, “Yes.”
I hadn’t hosted a Shadow student in nearly seven years — between 2003 and 2007, when I was editor of the weekly Lake Placid News, I had several students follow me. Ashley and I corresponded after the Mocktail reception and agreed that she’d come to White Plains on Wednesday, March 12.
As she arrived in our newsroom for our 9:45 a.m. huddle, during which we make plans for our mobile and desktop platforms as well as the next day’s paper, she brought news with her. A massive gas explosion had collapsed a Harlem building and debris from the blast had landed on adjacent Metro-North tracks, causing all service too and from Grand Central Terminal to cease. Metro-North, of course, is the rail line that carries millions of commuters from the northern suburbs we cover to New York. The collapse, which left 8 dead and the railroad closed for nearly eight hours, was a major story for our newsroom.
As we rapidly adjusted course to cover the story, Ashley was on the front lines. She spent time with one of our digital producers as he managed our homepages and sent push alerts to our mobile readers. Our social media editor was deeply consumed in managing the story and finding sources via Twitter and Ashley spent time with him as he did so. Reporters and photographers also swung into action and Ashley picked their brains about our business. She was on the sidelines as we filmed a video promotion for a forthcoming investigative piece about disability pensions, she participated in content planning meetings and even ended up in an Instagram photograph with one of our photographers.
All of my colleagues were impressed with Ashley — she represented St. Lawrence very, very well as she asked smart questions of each of them. She’s kept in touch with some of them and I won’t be surprised at all if she spends another day with us.
All of us on the Alumni Council take these kinds of connections seriously — they're the embodiment of the unique power of the St. Lawrence network.