Aaron Edwards '12 is no stranger to the world of fast-paced digital journalism. As a producer at Pop-Up Magazine, he is always chasing the next opportunity to improve the way people consume news online.
However, Edwards didn’t always know he would develop a passion for digital media. When he arrived at Ithaca College in the fall of '08, he envisioned himself working in print.
“I knew right off the bat that I wanted to work for The Ithacan,” he said. “I started off writing for Arts & Entertainment—I really wanted to be a theater reviewer.”
In fact, Edwards said that The Ithacan was one of the things that drew him to IC. Though he had no previous journalism experience, he said it was easy to get involved because of the support and guidance of The Ithacan staff.
“I had never done any kind of journalism before,” he said. “I had never written a lead, never written a nut graf, never put together an interview of any kind. The Ithacan staff just walked me through how to put a story together.”
After becoming a staff writer for the publication in his freshman year, Edwards worked his way up the editorial ladder. During his time at the college, he became Assistant Life & Culture Editor, News Editor and, his senior year, Editor-in-Chief of The Ithacan.
While Edwards pursued opportunities that were available on campus, he didn’t hesitate to reach out and create opportunities for himself outside of the college.
Edwards spent the summer after his freshman year interning at Sunday Paper, an alternative weekly magazine located in his hometown, Atlanta. While the paper didn’t offer an official internship program, he managed to secure the opportunity by reaching out to the editor.
“I did that a few days a week,” he said. “Features, small blurbs about things happening across the city. It was very scrappy, but I learned so much.”
During his time at the college, Edwards also interned for Associated Press in London and CBS in New York City. In addition, he attended the New York Times Student Journalism Institute program.
In 2015, Edwards joined Buzzfeed as a part of the team developing the Buzzfeed News app. What he said was so unique about this opportunity was the uniform desire among the team of journalists to better the way news is distributed digitally.
“We weren’t just making an app,” he said. “We were thinking, ‘How does Buzzfeed transform and adapt to this changing landscape?’”
Before working at Buzzfeed, Edwards focused on reporting and editing for print. However, Edwards said his time at the company really prompted him to think more about the digital distribution of media.
“I caught a bug for where journalism was headed, more broadly speaking,” he said. “[Buzzfeed] is this eclectic, weird place where a lot of things can happen. Working there really reinforced my desire to make new things, build new teams, and think about what's happening next.”
In July of 2016, Edwards left Buzzfeed and began working alongside a team of journalists and entrepreneurs to develop The Outline.
“The idea of scaling a website until it just blew up—that’s not what we were going after. We want to create an engaged and knowable audience of people versus world domination.”
Edwards said working at The Outline was the next step for him to figure out where the media industry is headed and what kinds of stories really matter.
“There's a very common denominator across media outlets right now where everyone covers the same thing,” he said. “Everyone has the same taste, the same sort of bottom line reaction to what's happening in the news. I think some of that is valid, but a lot of it is filler and ends up not being meaningful or interesting. If people come to The Outline and feel something, then we’ve done our job correctly.”