Paul Steiger’s ’60, storied career as an editor and journalist, which included 16 years as the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, started when he was the co-editor of The Hun School’s student newspaper, The Mall. “Writing for The Mall is when the ink got into my veins. We used hot type to print on the presses of the Princeton Packet.”
Mr. Steiger’s first paying job as a journalist was with The Trenton Times, the summer between his sophomore and junior years at Yale University. “Over my spring break, I drove down from New Haven and showed up at the editors office. He was a kind man, who agreed to let me fill in for staff as they were vacationing over the summer. He paid me $50 a week. I started out doing obituaries, but by the end of the summer, he allowed me to cover the trials and tribulations of the migrant workers in the cranberry bogs. It was a thrilling experience and my first investigative work.”
After graduating from Yale, Mr. Steiger moved to the west coast, where he covered California politics and the rise of Ronald Reagan to the governorship. “I wrote that he would never amount to anything in politics. I’ve tried to destroy every copy of that article!” Mr. Steiger moved on to take an opportunity covering business at the LA Times, which turned into and editor’s position, and eventually an offer to become the business editor of The Wall Street Journal in 1983, and the managing editor in the early 90’s.
“As an editor, the things that you are proudest of, are the accomplishments of the journalists who work for you. Supporting their work and watching it turn out better than I could have ever imagined, is even more fulfilling than writing a good story.” Under Mr. Steiger’s leadership, journalists at The Wall Street Journal were awarded the Pulitzer Prize 16 times.
Acutely aware of a change in journalism, with online outlets becoming more important and news organizations being less likely to let reporters spend months or weeks on an investigative story, Mr. Steiger founded ProPublica in 2007.
ProPublica is an online, independent, non-profit newsroom for investigative journalism in the interest of the public. “For young people today interested in journalism, it’s less about the organization you work for and more about the experience you are getting. Give into your imaginations, today there is almost no barrier to start, anyone can publish. Buzz Feed did not exist a few years ago and now it has as many unique visits as the New York Times. Go with your gut and take risks.”
The Hun School of Princeton is an independent, coeducational, private day and boarding college preparatory school. Student-centered, hands-on learning prepares students for the global community in which they will live and work.