Chronicle of Higher Education's CEO Joins Spring 2014 Interns

Chronicle of Higher Education's CEO Joins Spring 2014 Interns

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Maha Neouchy
March 24, 2014

Michael G. Riley, chief executive officer and editor in chief of The Chronicle of Higher Education, joined a group of 17 spring 2014 interns to discuss his diverse career in both print and online journalism.


Before joining The Chronicle of Higher Education last year, Riley had a series of notable and diverse positions including:


The Changing World of Journalism


Riley's main topic of discussion was witnessing the transition from print to digital media: "Most journalists who are my age right now wish they weren't in journalism. They see this ship going from a pretty stable and profitable print world to this very uncertain digital and online world. All the rules have changed, all the business models have changed, all the revenue streams are very different than what they were. But I take issue with that because I think this is the golden age of journalism in many ways and it's going to be you guys around this table that help reinvent the wheel. The Internet has changed everything just like the printing press changed everything when it was invented by Gutenberg."


What does Riley believe caused such a major transition from offline to online media? The mobile phone, which put "a printing press in everyone's hands."


Riley's Long and Diverse Career


During his undergraduate years, Riley majored in journalism. After graduating, he covered the 1988, 1992 and 1996 presidential elections and then became interested in learning more about the digital world, specifically the Internet. He completed a digital technology fellowship with CNN in 1994 and 1995, where he worked on a politics and web joint venture called 'Nothing was in real-time. It was like watching one of the first black and white movies—technology was terrible and the revolution over the last two decades has been incredible."


Riley shared that this year alone, more than half of the Chronicle of Higher Ed's "revenue will come from what we did online, and there are very few media organizations that can say that; we're lucky because we serve a niche. From rising tuitions to the introduction of technology, we get to cover it all. If you can find a niche, own it, and become the go-to place, people will actually pay money for your publication."


In his current position, Riley helps manage a number of different publications and initiatives including:


  • Chronicle of Philanthropy
  • Arts & Letters
  • Daily Online-News Services
  • Specialized Websites

Questions from TWC Spring 2014 Interns


Student Question: Did you have a goal in mind in regards to where you wanted to see yourself one day?


Riley: "Always make sure you're doing your best work at that moment. I've never been the person with a five or 10-year plan. I didn’t have one, I just knew I loved business, government, technology and the intersection of all three."


Student Question: For our generation, there are so many changes and so much happening with technology. What do you think is the biggest challenge we will face in our job search?


Riley: "If there is one thing you need to know to get ahead, it's wrapping your head around all the data and how to use it. There is more and more information coming at us and we have to figure out how to make sense of it. It doesn’t mean you have to be a data scientist or that you have to know how to run SPSS, we just have to understand data and how to use it to make decisions. Statistics courses, economics courses, those are all very helpful."


Advice for Up and Coming Journalists


Riley ended with tips and advice regarding what he looks for in job candidates:


  • Applicants who are both smart and agile
  • Someone who can connect the dots
  • Grit, resilience, and perseverance

Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

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