Andrea Stone is senior national correspondent for The Huffington Post. Previously, she was senior Washington correspondent for AOL News. Before joining AOL in September 2009, she spent nearly 24 years at USA TODAY.
A veteran reporter, Stone has covered politics, Congress, the military, foreign affairs and all manner of general news in 47 states and more than two dozen countries. Stone began her career for small newspapers such as the Riverdale Press (Bronx, N.Y.) and as a freelancer for Newsweek, Business Week, the Chicago Tribune and The Gainesville Sun in Florida. She went on to work for the Gannett News Service in Arlington, VA, as a reporter, researcher and editor.
In 1985, Stone got her big break when she was hired by USA Today, starting in the Money section. In 1989, she transferred to the News section as a national correspondent. She later went on to become the newspaper’s senior Pentagon correspondent and later covered Congress and national politics, as well as foreign affairs. She has reported from 47 states and two dozen countries, covered the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and later reported from Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel.
Stone is originally from the Bronx, N.Y. and graduated from Christopher Columbus High School there. She earned a B.A. degree from Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York (CUNY) and an M.S. degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Stone was interviewed by Abbey Stanerson, a Journalism & Mass Communications/ Public Relations major striving to get her Entrepreneurship certificate at the University of Iowa.
Abbey Stanerson: Why did you become involved in journalism?
Andrea Stone: I started on my junior high school, high school and college newspapers.
AS1: How do you define journalism today?
AS2: Journalism is still a profession but has been diluted and transformed by so-called citizen journalists and “crowd-sourcing.” More information is available than ever before but arguably it has never been less useful because there is too much of it and most of it lacks context and depth.
AS1: How has technology influenced or affected your career?
AS2: I started when newspapers were produced on Linotype machines and I typed my stories on typewriters. Early in my career I worked on computers and later was there when email and the Internet changed everything. I spent most of my career at the nation’s largest circulation newspaper, which was made possible because of satellite transmission to printing presses across the country. Now my stories are posted instantly on a website that created a new form of information by melding aggregation, blogs and original reporting. At every step of the way I had to learn new skills and adapt in order to remain employed.
AS1: How will technology affect the future of journalism?
AS2: The firehose of information will not let up. At the same time, unless the business model of digital evolves to make quality journalism viable, the spiral downward of layoffs, closed foreign bureaus, relying on fewer and fewer outlets like AP to cover actual news will continue. After 20 years of focusing on the method of delivery — the Internet — it is time to get back to the content of journalism. And I don’t mean “content” in the sense of text, photos, video, graphics, etc. I mean the content of reporting and analysis.
AS1: What one word would you use to describe the status of women in journalism today?
AS1: What role(s) will women have in future journalism?
AS2: Anything they want. Jill Abramson is editor of The New York Times and Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post and Tina Brown of Newsweek/The Daily Beast head two of the most important digital news sites. There are as many or more women war correspondents as men and women like Judy Bautista at the NY Times are making inroads into sports reporting. So I am optimistic about women’s roles. The danger is if the profession, which has been reeling thanks to the Internet, becomes a pink collar profession of low wages.
AS1: What do you believe made you so successful as a writer and landing the major companies like USA Today, AOL News and the Huffington Post?
AS2: I went from job to job in my twenties and it was just luck, being in the right place at the right time, that I decided to take a temporary job at Gannett News Service when I moved to Washington with my husband. I was overqualified for the editorial position but I took it and had the opportunity to show what I could do so that when an opening turned up at USA TODAY I was there to get it. After that, it was hard work and always being willing to learn new skills as the business changed. I have had a great career but it was never a straight line getting there.
AS1: When you were covering at the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001 how did you cover and experience that moment with emotions aside? What were the obstacles and benefits of being a journalist that day?
AS2: I arrived at the Pentagon minutes after the plane hit and went into the building that night for a press conference even though it was still on fire. It was the most intense few days I’ve ever worked and at the end of the week, as F-16 fighter jets patrolled over my DC neighborhood, I went by myself to see a favorite movie from my youth, “Funny Girl,” and sat in the balcony and cried. Then I went back to work the next day. Throughout that day, and on many other days during my career, I counted myself privileged to be witnessing history first-hand.
AS1: As a women in journalism or just a journalist in general what were the major struggles you obtained and how did you overcome them? Or did you?
AS2: I was pregnant with my son when I was hired by USA TODAY and for years struggled, as every working mother does, to balance family and career. It wasn’t always easy, especially because my job required quite a bit of travel. But having a supportive husband with a “normal” job really helped make it possible, along with some very long “day” trips in which I would fly halfway across the country and be back home late that night or the next day. It wasn’t until my son was older that I began to take longer trips overseas, and even then I never stayed on the road as long as those who didn’t have a family. I’m not sure if that impacted my career but even if it did, I wouldn’t have done it differenly.
AS1: Did you ever feel as though you gave some things up to be a journalist and what?
AS2: Having married young and followed my husband around the country, I never got to live overseas as a foreign correspondent. By the time I was an empty nester and applied for a posting in London, the wheels had fallen off the newspaper business and USA TODAY closed its bureau there. Otherwise, I’ve seen things and been places and had adventures and collected war stories that most people can only dream about.
AS1: Since journalism is becoming more Internet based are you intimated by the new generation or by the Internet in general? Are all companies training their staff to be internet savvy?
AS2: I work in an office where most everyone is my son’s age. I like to think they can learn as much from me and the other way around. I understand the basics of the web but I am light years behind them in terms of the technical skills. Most of what they know they learned growing up before they ever came to The Huffington Post. It’s a generational thing.
AS1: If there is anything I didn’t ask that you would like us to know about women in journalism please point that out to me. Otherwise thank you again Andrea!
AS2: The only thing I would add is that there is more to life than a career so don’t forget to have a life along the way.
This is part of a series of profiles of JAWS members by University of Iowa students. For a complete listing, see this page.