Steve Crosby ’78 recounts media career, offers advice to students

On Feb. 21, digital media professional Steve Crosby ‘78 chronicled his experiences in a surprising multiplicity of communications careers, explaining the wisdom and skills that he gained as well as providing foresight into the future of the media industry.

His talk, a part of the Geneseo Opportunities in Leadership Development “Pearls of Wisdom from Successful Leaders” series, was titled, “My media career from The Lamron to Gannett Newspapers to the Hess Corporation.”

Crosby began his career serving as editor-in-chief of The Lamron for his junior and senior years at Geneseo. After graduating, he immediately went to work as a regional reporter for the Finger Lakes Times. In 1979, he joined the staff of Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle where he rose from city desk reporter to assistant managing editor of the paper during the 10 years that followed.

As a reporter, Crosby covered the struggle of Rochester’s homeless population, debunked mysterious deaths at a state psychiatric hospital and was on the team of journalists named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of a leak at the Robert Emmett Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Ontario, N.Y., northeast of Rochester.

“It’s that kind of work where you don’t mind the long hours - where you don’t mind the endless drudgery to do what you do,” Crosby said.

He emphasized “the craft of the writing” as a defining aspect to truly impact readers.

Crosby then moved up to top editor of the Wausau Daily Herald in Wausau, Wis. Afterwards he was promoted to top editor of larger papers including the Lafayette Journal and Courier in Lafayette, Ind. and the Lansing State Journal in Lansing, Mich. Crosby said he decided to leave journalism in 2001 after 22 years in the industry to pursue other aspects of the media field.

“I never expected to do anything other than be a journalist in my career,” Crosby said. “It didn’t work out that way … I was surprised to find out that I actually had skills outside of journalism - things I’d done as a reporter and as an editor.”

Crosby attributed his understanding of community, the importance of technology and overseeing various types of people to his experiences in journalism and media management.

He left newspapers because “It just seemed like it was way too much about being a business manager and I wasn’t interacting enough with the community, working with the newsroom, really getting coverage out there.”

Crosby joined with the startup company Small Times Media, an organization that published content for businesspeople both online and in print about advancements in micro and nanotechnology. After serving as editor and then president of the company, he took a job with Ford Motor Company in 2005 managing digital and internal communications. Afterward in 2007, he moved on to his current career as digital media director at Hess Corporation, an international oil company.

Crosby offered this advice to students: “Develop the kind of skills that give you choices and give you possibilities to try [new careers].”

“If you go to work every day and you’re not a little afraid of ‘Am I good enough to do this?’ then you’re not pushing yourself enough,” he added.