Alumnus of the Month: November 2007
Adam Stone '01
What is your edge (strength)?
Within the context of The Examiner [community newspaper], the ability to assemble a group of really talented people. Collaboratively, we produce a product every week that we really care about. The personal and professional relationships I've developed through the years have been a great benefit.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
I was a print journalism major. There was a group of amazing [communications] professors who really instilled some core journalistic values in all the print journalism students. They taught us to consider ethics in approaching any newspaper assignment.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
Because of the support and encouragement of several Hofstra professors (Bob Greene, Ellen Frisina, Carol Fletcher, Stephen Knowlton, to name a few), I landed some excellent internships with People magazine, Newsday and (Orange County New York's) Times-Herald Record. These experiences brought me to the newspaper industry.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job was at The Star [Westchester], which covered Peekskill and Cortlandt - I was the Peekskill beat reporter for about 15 months. I was responsible for a "man on the street" feature in which I had to gather information from three strangers, snap their photograph, get a quote, as well as their full name and age. I learned how to read people. And read them quickly.
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
Releasing the first issue of The Examiner (September 11, 2007) and getting some really nice feedback from readers. The response made me even more confident in the project's viability.
Who in your field do you most admire?
I drew a lot of inspiration from Bob Greene, who was chair of the Journalism Department while I was at Hofstra. I think that a lot of the former print journalism majors at Hofstra will always carry a little piece of Bob out into the field.
What was your major?
Print journalism with a sociology minor.
What was your favorite class?
Journalism 13, taught by Bob Greene. We got a T-shirt at the end of it that said, "I Survived Journalism 13." The workload in the class was daunting - everyone said if you can get through Journalism 13, you can get through anything in the real world of newspapers. Turned out to be true for a lot of us.
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
It's hard to pinpoint one, but I think that finishing Journalism 13 and getting my T-shirt will be a lasting memory. There was a lot of camaraderie among the students who survived that class.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What advice would you give current students?
With college, your experience should be a learning experience, and you should approach your classes that way - and not focus on the grades so much. Dive into a major you are passionate about - and really focus in on learning and the [good] grades will come. And if they don't, what you've learned will serve you better than any impressive report card.
How do you balance work and life?
I have an enormously supportive wife and beautiful baby daughter. My entire family and all my close friends have been terrific in allowing me some wiggle room and leeway to launch the newspaper. Naturally, it's important to keep that balance. In fact, it helps professionally to have a satisfying family life and social life. Much of what drives me professionally ties into self-imposed expectations I have for myself as a father, husband, son, brother, friend and so forth. And those self-imposed expectations are a byproduct of the lessons I've learned from the people I care about most.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Someone I was distributing papers with asked me a similar question recently. After I answered, he said my response reminded him of a line from a Bob Dylan song. Something to the effect of that I know where I am, but I don't know where I'm going. There's some truth to that. I don't feel the need to map out where I am going to be five to 10 years from now. I try and enjoy the process.
You majored in print journalism, a field that some believe is fast becoming obsolete. How do you respond to the rise of technology and create success for yourself in this field?
On our bare bones Web site, theexaminernews.com, we posted our first editorial titled "A Contract with our Communities." It argues that print publications, especially community newspapers, are far from dead, despite popular belief. Undoubtedly the Internet has changed the way news is reported and consumed. But there's still a thirst for a feisty community newspaper that covers local news, local sports, local lifestyles and local people. What we do in print, as far as creating and hosting local conversations, can't be duplicated in other forms of media. And there's no doubt that many people still like to have something in their hands to read. It's an experience.
What is the most difficult aspect of creating a print newspaper?
I remember something a city editor from a paper I interned at told me just before the summer began. We were on the phone, discussing the internship, and he signed off by saying, "And don't forget-the news doesn't stop for anybody." I'll never forget that. We publish a newspaper every Tuesday on a shoestring budget, with people who are wearing dozens of hats. We don't have time to pat ourselves on the back because once we get one out, we're already working on the next issue. The most challenging aspect of the job is also the biggest draw.
What is your best advice to students wishing to start their own businesses?
I thought of the idea to start this newspaper a little more than a month before the first issue was published. I think a lot of people have big ideas that they don't execute. Once you stumble upon the idea you want to execute and find that there is a market for it, and you're confident that it will work, get a notepad and make a list of everything you need to do to make it happen. Then it just becomes about execution and perseverance. You have to expect the unexpected, and make an agreement with yourself early on that you'll fight through the challenges. If you can't come to grips with this early on, you shouldn't work for yourself. However, if you're willing to try and turn negatives into positives, you're guaranteed success, as long as you're defining the terms.
Adam Stone is publisher of The Examiner, a weekly Westchester community newspaper he launched in September 2007. Previously, he worked as a freelance reporter. He was published in The New York Times, The Daily News, The Journal News, among many others. In April 2007 he was awarded second-place honors in the New York Press Association’s Writer of the Year contest. He was also awarded a first-place prize, for the second straight year, in sports feature writing. Adam has won press awards for in-depth reporting.
While studying print journalism at Hofstra University, Adam participated in several reporting internship programs, most notably at Newsday, People magazine and Orange County’s Times-Herald Record.