Breaking News in the Digital Age

Celine Hacobian ’14
Ruben Kanya ’14
Celine Hacobian ’14

As a first-year at Brandeis, Celine Hacobian ’14 would walk into The Justice’s offices and feel overwhelmed. In the paper’s editorial meetings, “I was always intimidated,” she says. “Everyone sounded so knowledgeable.”

By her senior year, however, the young writer was right in the mix. “Even though everyone was very opinionated, we had to come together and put all our ideas into one cohesive editorial every week,” she recalls. “That was such an important life lesson: You might work with people with whom you don’t agree, but you always have to find a common ground.”

Today, just five years after graduation, Hacobian is a social media producer at ABC News, having held similar positions at Time magazine and The Christian Science Monitor.

In today’s politically charged climate, managing social media at a prominent news organization isn’t easy, she says. You have to understand audience engagement, data analytics and video production, of course. But, more than that, “you have to think about why you’re covering what you’re covering. It’s not just about getting a million retweets because people are outraged, it’s about adding to the general understanding.”

Fortunately, journalism faculty member Eileen McNamara and other Brandeis professors prepared Hacobian for the fray. They “made me realize how important it is to fact-check and be responsible in your reporting,” she says.

After completing her Brandeis studies in creative writing, and Italian language and literature, Hacobian earned a master’s in journalism at Columbia University. Her interests dovetailed nicely when she landed a fellowship at La Stampa, a daily newspaper published in Turin, Italy, allowing her to cover big stories like Expo 2015, Milan’s world’s fair.

She’s also drawn to writing human-interest stories, which she learned to do at The Justice, interviewing Brandeisians like Stacy Ratner ’94, who founded a Chicago nonprofit to combat illiteracy, and Sam Vaghar ’08, who established the Millennium Campus Network, which trains college students around the world to be social-justice leaders. “I always enjoyed telling stories about real people, stories that inspire you or that you can relate to,” she says.

At the end of May, Hacobian will come back to campus for Alumni Weekend, where she’ll celebrate The Justice’s 70th anniversary as well as her own 5th Reunion.

“So many of my best friends came from The Justice, and it gave me great experience,” she says. “I’m forever grateful for my time there. And I’m very thankful my parents, who are so supportive, encouraged me to attend Brandeis and go into journalism.”

— Brian Klotz