NISKAYUNA- Self-management has never been a problem for Don Seiffert, who has spent over 20 years in the journalism business. However, with his new role as managing editor at the Boston Business Journal, the Niskayuna graduate will be overseeing entire departments and every beat the Journal covers.
Despite the distance and the years since he’s lived in Niskayuna when Seiffert was promoted, he thought back to the impact two former teachers of Niskayuna High School had on his writing.
After graduating from Niskayuna, Seiffert went on to the Boston University and got his bachelor’s degree in English. For two years, Seiffert worked at KAPLAN doing what he described as ‘just an office job,” before he realized his passion for writing. More specifically, for journalism.
Here, Seiffert takes a moment to pause from the Boston business beat and talk shop:
Nash: What about journalism intrigued you?
Seiffert: In 1992, I moved out to California -still working for KAPLAN- while I was there I picked up this free weekly newspaper called the East Bay Express. I just started reading through it and I thought, ‘I could do that.’ I’d always been into writing. I wrote 10 and 20 page letters to my friends.
So then I moved back to Boston and applied for the journalism graduate program at BU, which I graduated from in 1996.
Nash: What was your first journalism job?
Seiffert: I worked at TAB newspapers – a collection of community newspapers, currently owned by GateHouse Media. I was hired for the Dover and Sherborn sections. I was there for about a year and then I went up to a bigger TAB, which was Newton- one of the bigger suburbs. By that time I was an editor and I stayed there for about six years. Then I went to Brockton Enterprise and was an editor there from 2007 to 2010. It was a daily newspaper and sometimes you had to work overnight. So it wasn’t ideal.
Nash: How did you eventually make the switch to the Boston Business Journal?
Seiffert: My editor at TAB, George Donnelly, took another track and was at the Journal. So he took a chance on me again and hired me to write on the technology and drug development. It was great timing – in 2012 there was a boom in the market and especially in the Boston area and I got a name for myself.
Nash: What’s your new role as managing editor like?
Seiffert: I’m in charge of real estate, of technology, of law and finance too. I need to learn and have an understanding about all of them. For now, I’m also still working on reporting for technology and drug development.
Nash: How have you seen the industry change?
Seiffert: I’ve seen declining revenues for all publications. The whole switch to being on the web has made print almost an afterthought in some ways. Getting used to telling stories on the internet through slide shows, videos and podcasts. It isn’t a bad thing, in some ways you can tell a story better now.
Nash: What’s your advice to any young student thinking of going into the journalism field?
Seiffert: Practice writing whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be reporting. Learn turns of phrase because writing is where it all comes together. You also have to learn humility. Don’t try to be an expert at first. Ask a lot of questions.
Nash: Was there anyone from Niskayuna who you think helped you become a better writer or inspired you to go into journalism?
Seiffert: Definitely. There was Rich Holt, he was my English teacher at the high school. I had creative writing with him and he really helped with my writing. I had a lot of fun with it. I actually sent him a message a while back thanking him for his class and telling him that it’s one of the reasons why I am where I am today. Then there’s Richard Evans, who was a social studies teacher, who was just an awesome teacher.