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Alumni of the Month

Alumna of the Month: September 2010

Lauren McCullough '04

What is your edge (strength)?

I’m passionate and determined, and I try to approach challenges with a sense of humor.

What at Hofstra gave you your edge?

I had amazing professors at Hofstra who helped shape my career. Their advice and assistance gave me a big head start.

In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?

Pivotal.

What was your major?

Print journalism, with a minor in sociology.

What was your favorite class?

It’s a tie between copyediting and page design. Both classes taught me practical skills that I still use today.

What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?

We had a lot of fun times at Hofstra, but graduation day was unforgettable. Watching my now-husband, Matt Silverman, walk across the stage … our families cheering from the stands … feeling a combination of exhilaration and pride. It’s visceral, even six years later.

What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?

I’m a digital journalist. During my senior year at Hofstra, I took an online journalism class, and I interned at Newsday.com. Like a lot of journalism school graduates, I thought that I’d spend my career working at a newspaper. I graduated and moved to Glens Falls, New York, to work as a copyeditor and page designer for one of the area’s newspapers, The Post-Star. It was a great experience for me, and it helped me transition from the classroom to the newsroom. After about a year, I accepted an offer with Newsday.com and returned to Long Island. From Newsday to The Associated Press, I’ve stayed true to digital journalism.

What advice would you give current Hofstra students?

Meet as many industry people as you can, make a positive impression, convey your passions and keep in touch with them.

How do you balance work and life?

I don’t know that I’ve found the right balance. It ebbs and flows. This is an exciting time in my career and I’m OK with focusing on it. It helps to have a job that I’m really passionate about.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Ten years! I’m not even sure how OLD I’ll be in 10 years.

What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?

I tell people that the highlight of my career has been contributing to the latest edition of The AP Stylebook. I don’t know if I’ll ever top that in terms of nerdy prestige. But, the most rewarding experience has probably been launching AP’s flagship Facebook and Twitter accounts earlier this year.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that has kept you motivated through the years?

I’m terrible at quoting movies and TV shows, but there’s one quote that I repeat all the time in my social media presentations. In Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda says “Do, or do not. There is no try.” It’s geeky, I know, but there’s something so straightforward about this line. It’s about commitment. We often know what we should do, what we have to do, but we’re afraid to take the risk. For me, it’s not good enough to try. Do it. Own it. Make it happen.

Having covered quite a few major news events, which story do you feel had the biggest impact on you?

The Minnesota bridge collapse in 2007 was one of the first big news events that I worked on at AP. I flew in to Minneapolis the morning after the collapse, along with what seemed like every other NYC-area journalist. I mined social networks – Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube – for eyewitness images of the event, and I pursued interviews with people who had been on the bridge when it collapsed. I worked alongside seasoned reporters, photographers, videographers and editors, and I learned firsthand what goes into covering a major news story.

Do you envision the Facebook and Twitter craze dying down? How do those trends impact how we report and receive our news?

No. Social network sites like Facebook and Twitter are proving to have serious staying power, and their usage has continued to rise worldwide every month. And, even if Facebook or Twitter went away, social networking as a means of communication is here to stay. News consumers expect content to find them – either by recommendation or serendipity. News organizations and journalists have to go beyond the morning newspaper and the 6 p.m. broadcast to ensure the public stays informed about the day’s top stories.

Do you think social networking sites have changed the way college students socialize?

Sure, just as they’ve changed the way we all socialize. But, more importantly, social networking sites have given college students an enormous amount of control over their future. There’s no better way to show a prospective employer that you’re smart, savvy and informed than by having a well-executed personal social media strategy.

Lauren McCullough '04

Lauren McCullough ’04 is an award-winning journalist and social media enthusiast. She has traveled around the country to speak about multimedia journalism, and she lectures on the use and importance of social media in the newsroom.

In her role as social networks and news engagement manager for The Associated Press (AP), Lauren oversees the newsroom’s social media efforts, including the flagship accounts on Facebook and Twitter. She directs the work of AP’s journalists around the world in pursuing sources from social networks, as well as promoting AP and member content.

Lauren was recognized by The Associated Press Managing Editors Association with the 2008 John L. Dougherty Award. She has also been awarded two AP Beat of the Week awards for her work with citizen journalists during the 2009 Hudson River plane splashdown and the 2007 Minnesota bridge collapse.

Prior to joining the AP, Lauren worked for Newsday.com in Melville, New York, and The Post-Star in Glens Falls, New York.