Fifteen years ago, this year's Alumni Achievement Award winner, Jim Brady, SOC/BA '89, left behind a traditional print-based sportswriter position with The Washington Post to pursue a career in online news reporting. Boasting posts such as executive director at AOL and executive editor of washingtonpost.com, he has no regrets.
Brady continues to believe that the evolving world of online news is the most exciting one around. As president of digital strategy for Allbritton Communications (the ABC affiliate behind WRAL Channel 7 in D.C.) he plans to see that trend continue.
In August, he launched tbd.com, a new Web site that promises to turn current online news reporting on its head.
Brady caught the online journalism bug fairly early on in the 1990s, seeing the nearly limitless possibilities for online news. "If you can get stuff faster, why wouldn't you want that?" he asks.
People have always wanted choices, he notes, and online journalism provides readers more flexible options. "We're selfish at heart. We want things when we want them. The Web gives us that flexibility in consuming content. You're not forced into anything you don't want."
Prior to joining Allbritton in fall 2009, Brady enjoyed his position as executive editor of washingtonpost.com, but ultimately found that he wanted more flexibility and freedom, too. Tbd.com brings both to him and readers.
Calling his new project "a local Web site for the next generation," Brady explains the idea was born out of the great journalism being done in the Washington region, not just by traditional reporters, but by bloggers and regular citizens. The concept that "good content is good content" rules at tbd.com, which boasts 175 bloggers (all vetted by tbd.com staff members), as well as approximately 50 Web staffers. "Tbd.com is about producing a unique experience for news seekers. Every time someone visits the site, we want them to find five different articles," he says.
Brady might have caught the online news bug in the '90s, but he knew he wanted a journalism career in high school. The Long Islander selected AU because of its strong journalism program and large, east coast city locale. D.C.'s strong job market and a positive visit to campus sealed the deal.
Brady characterizes his college life as busy, with a part-time job at The Washington Post, and positions as sports editor and regular columnist for The Eagle. "My grades suffered a little bit – they were definitely my second priority – but in journalism, being out and about is the most important."
These days, Brady tries to return to campus to share his experience with current AU students through his role as a mentor, ambassador, and part-time professor in the School of Communication. He appreciates that SOC dean Larry Kirkman has made a real effort to engage alumni in the school, and he enjoys the interactions he's had with the students.
Despite working in a business that brings surprises on a regular basis, Brady says he was truly surprised at hearing he was selected to be the 2010 Alumni Achievement Award recipient. "When I got the call, I thought it was one of my friends playing a joke on me," he says. "AU has churned out a lot of amazing alumni. It's truly an honor to receive this award."
Join us in honoring Brady at the 2010 Alumni Awards Ceremony and Reception during All-American Weekend on Saturday, October 23 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the American University Museum.