Jay Rosen: “A True Story”

NYU Journalism professor, Social Media guru, and founder and leader of the “citizen journalist” movement, Jay Rosen finally explains to the world why his career in journalism ended more than thirty years ago. Jay’s spectacular screw-up at the Buffalo Courier-Express has become a legendary cautionary tale; indeed, I tell it in many of my classes. I’m glad we finally have Jay’s version of what happened. It was certainly worth the wait.

This detail I hadn’t known: “Not only had I stupidly applied to the newspaper that had already offered me a job, but it was my job they were advertising in Editor and Publisher! Yes. [Buffalo Courier-Express Editor] Turner had to post the opening to fulfill legal requirements; in reality he had reserved that slot for me. When he got my application he obviously considered it an act of disloyalty, and that’s why he ceased all communication. So I lost my job by applying for my job. And that was the (slightly) kafkaesque turn that ended my newsroom career.”

The whole post gave me goosebumps, actually. To my knowledge this is the first time Jay has ever written about his days in Buffalo, let alone written about that debacle. It was gratifying, for example, to read how The Spectrum, the University of Buffalo student newspaper for which we were both editors and columnists, saved our friend from a life of inconsequence (even if it didn’t deliver him all the way to the New York Times).

Jay was my first mentor. We had a stormy relationship for awhile, because he saw something in me and demanded that I deliver it, every deadline, and just once did he tell me that I did a decent job on a story. We became friends only after he had left the newspaper, and left Buffalo.

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