John C. Abell

New York City Bureau Chief,

John C. Abell is the founding New York City Bureau Chief of, a position he took up in 2008.

Previously, he spent 26 years at Reuters where his editorial career spanned the advent of the Internet era. The Portabubble was the road warrior's tool of choice when he got started, and his first mobile reporting tool was a TRS-80 (which he still has). Now he doesn't leave home without his iPhone.

Abell has been a news dictationist, reporter, correspondent, editor, and bureau chief, and, in all-too-brief stint with the Committee of Concerned Journalists, a consultant on journalism best practices.

He started Reuters New Media's first joint venture—the Reuters/Variety Entertainment Report—and was running this service out of the offices of Daily Variety in Hollywood when, in the early '90s, the Internet started being something you didn't just see in quotes.

The day Mosaic was released was positively life affirming for him, in a Roy Neary sort of way. It was clear that the world was changing at either a frightening or an exhilarating pace—and that he had to be part of it.

A chance to help create the original was his ticket across the digital divide. But, as most traditional journalists who became new media foot soldiers will confess, going from mainstream to online was more a pivot than a leap.

The "old days" were punctuated with all sorts of soul-searching, student congress-esque debates on "new media journalism" and the new ethics, practices, and roles. But a few lessons became resoundingly clear to Abell:

  • Good journalism has nothing to do with the medium.
  • If the medium is the message, you're not doing it right.
  • Nothing is more important than aspiring to be correct.

Focus: Culture, Technology, United States, Americas

Last Updated: Jul 29, 2008

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