Mary Ann Georgantopoulos found herself holed up in the Huntington News newsroom until 3 or 4 a.m.— voluntarily— quite often. Her non-journalist friends at Northeastern thought she was crazy.
“They’d be like, ‘What are you doing?’” she said with a laugh.
But the thrill of being in a newsroom until dawn with people just as passionate for getting great stories out, Georgantopoulos, who’s now a reporter at BuzzFeed News in New York City, said, is what made her want to pursue a career in journalism.
Georgantopoulos came to Northeastern in 2005 knowing she had a passion for news and loved to write. When her comrades in her introductory classes encouraged her to write for The Huntington News (then called Northeastern News), she jumped at the opportunity.
She’d declare her majors in journalism and political science shortly after.
In some ways, Georgantopoulos’ three-year tenure at BuzzFeed News echoes her experiences at Northeastern. She’s all too familiar with working late nights and early mornings—journalism “isn’t a 9-5 desk job,” Georgantopoulos cautions—and as a reporter on the breaking news team, she covers fast-paced stories quickly and accurately.
Her experience writing about campus sexual assault as a graduate student in journalism at Columbia University, from 2012 to 2014, has enabled her to write about some of society’s most difficult and poignant issues—assault and domestic violence—with grace.
“It’s a very difficult topic that can take an emotional toll,” Georgantopoulos said. “You also have to be careful with the way you talk to your sources. But I enjoy sharing their stories, and I’ve developed skills at BuzzFeed to get their stories out with respect and honesty.”
She’s most proud of her breaking news pieces covering the Hulk Hogan Gawker trial, for which she pored over thousands of pages of court documents to write a definitive story on how the trial precipitated. “No one had gone through the court documents in such detail and depth,” she explained.
Another experience that resonates with her includes a piece on the public statements made by victims of Larry Nassar, former team doctor for U.S.A. Gymnastics. For this story, her editorial team took every statement that was read publicly— some were anonymous, she explained— and partnered with the design team to create a “big, beautiful page of everything that was spoken.” “I think it really encompasses that trial and the power behind all these women,” Georgantopoulos said.
Much of her responsibilities as a breaking news reporter, she explains, are made easier by her work environment at BuzzFeed, which is free of egos and filled with “really smart, cool people” (some of which recently covered the tragic Parkland shooting in a victims’ post, which she describes as “one of the hardest assignments to do,” but one that “resonates with people and touches them”).
“The team we have going here makes coming into work an exciting thing,” she said.
As someone who often has to report and write multiple stories in a single workday, Georgantopoulos recommends working hard from the beginning of college onward.
“Get involved in the school paper or radio or whatever form of journalism that interests you. Take advantage of the professors that are there. They’re educators for a reason. They love what they do,” she said, adding that Professors Dan Kennedy, Alan Schroeder and Walter Robinson left lasting impressions on her as a student at Northeastern.
“It’s not an easy job,” Georgantopoulos said of journalism. “You have to know that. But it’s a super exciting profession and you’re always learning new things. It’s a matter of working hard and doing good things.”