“Byron’s Law”: Advice from Former New York Post Columnist Christopher Byron

Christopher Byron, author and former columnist for The New York Post (image courtesy of Cencom.org)

Christopher Byron, author and former columnist for The New York Post (image courtesy of Cencom.org)

Christopher Byron, author and former columnist for The New York Post, spoke to students Thursday, giving them advice from his nearly 50 years of experience in the news industry.

Byron started his discussion with what he called “Byron’s Law,” or how to begin a career in a news organization.

“Byron’s law in getting a job is that pull always works better than push,” he said. “You get a lot further in your whole career by being able to get pulled into a situation rather than trying to shove yourself into it.”

Byron himself was pulled into a job right out of college at Time Magazine after contacting Yale College’s alumni networking office as a senior to inquire about jobs in the media industry. They told him that it was possible to get a job at the magazine, since Henry Luce, co-creator of Time, was a contributor to the school. The staff in the alumni office then made a phone call to the magazine to inform them that Byron was coming for an interview.

By the time he arrived for his interview at Time, his future bosses were anxious to welcome him. “They said, ‘Byron, come on in, I’ve been waiting for you,’” Byron said.

Byron argued that the phone call to the magazine made by the alumni networking office differentiated him from other applicants.

“You go from being somebody who’s knocking on the door and unexpected to somebody that has somebody who’s on the other end who wants to help,” he said.

From this experience, Byron said he learned the importance of having a network of people willing to help you. He encouraged students to contact their own alumni networking office, because “the nasty secret of adulthood is that it’s not what you know, but who you know,” he said.

Once a job is secured, Byron said that it is important to be dedicated and work hard. He told students that “once you get inside of an institution, it is important that you make a total commitment to live, breathe, and die the news.”

Demonstrating this commitment, he began his career at Time, in a position that was a step above an internship working on the in-house newsletter. But, because he was passionate about his job, Byron said he came in everyday with “20 story ideas,” and was constantly pitching his ideas to those working in the news department. Eventually, he was promoted to a news correspondent covering Wall Street, and later was sent to Europe as a foreign correspondent.

Byron closed his remarks by passing on advice to students that he received while working at Time.

“Let the job that you’re doing define your life’s experiences. If you make that commitment, you won’t be disappointed.”

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