Will McGuinness: Huffington Post Higher Education Editor

8 Apr

When Will McGuinness started speaking to our class on Thursday, the reoccurring pattern of UMass alumni’s success became clear. Will is the second UMass Journalism alum we’ve heard from this semester. Like his predecessor, Eric Athas, Will is doing impressive things.

Will graduated from UMass Amherst in 2010. While on campus, he was editor-in-chief at The Daily Collegian. He also tried his skills at a number of other publications, including the Daily Hampshire Gazette and a Los Angelas magazine.

Jobs after Graduation

When he left Amherst he was awarded a fellowship that funded his time working for the Dow Jones Newswire. Will spent much of his time in college covering activism and civil rights, which was a stark contrast to the business-centric news at Dow Jones. He was adamant that a reporter’s ability to cover different beats is an imperative skill.

When his fellowship ended he landed a job as digital editor of his hometown newspaper, The Herald News in Fall River, Massachusetts. While at the Herald News Will started to delve deeper into the world of social media. He helped establish an online presence for the paper. Unlike larger papers, the Herald News’s organized its social media around the brand instead of individual reporters.

Using basic web tools, Will helped turn the Herald News’s online content into more than a newspaper. The paper became a hub for community organization. They provided tools to show the town where potholes were. He also established program where elderly people could request shoveling service by the local high school’s football team.

Marie Joseph Drowns in Fall River

While Will was working for the paper a major national story broke in Fall River. The body of a woman named Marie Joseph was found dead in a town pool, three days after she drowned. The accident led to the resignations and firings of people at a number of different levels.

Will utilized the paper’s online elements to build a relationship with the family:

  • They used information on the woman’s Facebook as preliminary leads.
  • With the family’s permission they also published photos from the website.
  • The used Facebook’s Chat feature to set up an early interview with the family

When the national media flooded into Fall River the day after the accident, The Herald News had already established a strong relationship with the victim’s family and were the upmost source on the situation. Will attributed the paper’s ability to break that story to a combination of their social media tools mixed with old fashioned reporting.

Reporting News on the National Stage

While at the Herald News, Will resolved himself to apply to three jobs every day. He left his position at digital chief in Fall River and moved to New York to report nationally for CBS News. He was happy and successful at CBS, but he never missed a chance to pursue an opportunity.

When he saw a tweet about how the Huffington Post was hiring people to work in their higher education, he sent Arianna Huffington an email. He was asked to come in for an interview, and was offered a position within the hour.


One Response to “Will McGuinness: Huffington Post Higher Education Editor”

  1. stevejfox April 9, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    Remy — Remember, we are doing journalism and need quotes with our blog posts. Will’s job wasn’t the traditional “reporting” job at CBS….so that needed a little explanation.


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