Student Journalist Spotlight: Cody Brown, NYU Local

Cody Brown is a journalism revolutionary. As publisher of NYU Local at New York University, “a 24 hour Web site about the school we call home,” Brown is aiming to “remove the distinction of who is a professional and who is a citizen and let everyone contribute in the same way, using their real names and eventually building their own reputations.”

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As CMM previously noted, the site screams innovation and is a worthy addition to collegemediatopia’s larger efforts to reinvent the journalism field. Below, Brown shares some thoughts with CMM about his early Local leadership and his larger spirit of journalistic inventiveness.

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Cody Brown at a recent NYU Local Dance Party.

Brown at a recent NYU Local Dance Party.

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Write a six-word memoir of your NYU Local experience so far.

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We started a New Media Fraternity.

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To all the new media haters out there: Why does NYU Local matter?

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Because we take your market share and advertising revenue.

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What is your position with NYU Local and general responsibilities?

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I am the Publisher. I designed the site and oversee changes in layout, workflow, and staff. My office is just off Broadway in the back row of a coffee shop called Think. Most of my time is spent answering a slew of e-mails with staff each morning and throughout the day.

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What is one thing people may not understand about the site?

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Our news is delivered in the form of a collage and we don’t claim to be the final word. We stress that our writers dig into stories and always be accurate but we think the journalistic ideal of objectivity is a corrosive myth. We value perspective. We don’t try to hide it in a style of writing that acts as the neutral party.

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Further, stories don’t end after they are published, and sometimes we will post a story even if we don’t have a great hold on it because we want to turn it over to the collected expertise of our readers- comments are always enabled. To some, this can make the site look scattered, opinionated, and incomplete but what some don’t realize is that this is the way newsrooms have and will always work. We cut the facade and bring our reader into our discussion because we think it’s an honest, engaging, and more intelligent way of understanding a beat.

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Is it journalism?

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That word is loaded but of course there is journalism on our site. We have scooped Washington Square News on numerous occasions. Something we do focus on (and will focus more on in the next iteration of the site) is expanding the opportunities to be a reporter. We only accept comments from those willing to provide a full name and email address because we see comments as a valuable potential source. Going online-only enables a lot more of these opportunities .

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What is one post you’re especially proud to have featured on the site, and why?

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For a school that considers itself to be a ‘A Private University in the Public Service’ it’s a basic assumption to think that, as the school grows more prestigious, its employees will gain. NYU outsourced its custodial staff to a management company that redacted the opportunity for next-generation custodians to take classes at the school.

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We caught wind of the story and posted this. She made it a quick entertaining read and NYU’s Director of Public Affairs immediately hit the comments. I was able to ask some tough questions and we put pressure on the administration.

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What is one question we should all be asking much more often about the current state or future of journalism?

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How can we get a news beat to cover itself?

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You wake up in ten years. Where are you and what are you doing?

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I’m groggy and a little hungover. I wake up on a Lear Jet booking it to Singapore. That morning things got a bit testy, the Iran oligarchy initially greeted TehranLocal.com with approval but a few stories linked them with nasty headlines and they started leaning on the information bureau to shut the site down. Needless to say, our team managed to talk them out of taking one of my limbs, we set up servers off-shore, and I hopped on a plane with just enough time to make it to the launch of ShieldYourEyes.com, our new global Internet fashion magazine. I’m wearing spandex.

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A screenshot of NYU Local's 'Collage' by staff photographer David Alvarez.

A screenshot of NYU Local's 'Collage' by staff photographer David Alvarez.

Comments
5 Responses to “Student Journalist Spotlight: Cody Brown, NYU Local”
  1. Wow, pretty darn cocky :)

  2. Bryan Murley says:

    Related: a podcast with Cody Brown and Miles Skowpren about online-only student publications

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