Freelance journalist Ruth Bashinsky spoke at the final “Food for Thought” lecture of the semester on December 6 during common hour in Humanities 027. Bashinsky, who has freelanced for publications including the New York Times and Newsday, discussed her experiences with news gathering and how she did everything from crash celebrity weddings to sneak into maternity wards to get a story. With 15 years of experience as a journalist, she has covered stories ranging from murders to fashion shows to the scandal involving former president Bill Clinton’s extramarital affair.
Bashinsky now writes for the Daily News and largely deals with entertainment stories. She believes that if celebrities “put themselves out there” then their personal lives are fair game and their privacy is compromised. “Yeah, you feel a little sleazy…,” she began. She went on to tell a story about how she once obtained a story overhearing a conversation in a bathroom stall. “The Daily News is a tabloid and it is a whole set of different rules. You try to be compassionate but at the same time, you’re trying to get a story.”
Along with talking about issues involving celebrity privacy and ethical newsgathering, Bashinsky discussed how students can “make things happen” for themselves. “With Twitter and other social media… there are stories everywhere,” she said. “Back in my day, the internet was just starting but now you have to know how to use [them] if you want to get a job. Who knows where newspapers will be in 10 years, so you have to be good at everything.”
Bashinsky’s career has not centered on just entertainment. “Try to work in as many departments as you can,” said the former public relations practitioner who also mentioned that her experience in public relations helped her journalistic career. “As much as I liked PR and it’s a great field to be in… journalism was where I wanted to go because I had an appetite for news. I’m a news junkie.”
“I thought the lecture was very interesting because you don’t hear too much about journalists that work in tabloids,” said Christopher Infantino, senior English major who attended the lecture. “You don’t really know how much work and research actually goes into getting these stories… I thought it was really cool to hear her perspective on that world.”
The Food For Thought lecture series will begin again on January 24 with Jonathan Clark from 880 CBS Radio.