Before Kenneth R. Rosen was a senior news assistant at the New York Times, he was the editor-in-chief of District.
Rosen, originally from New York, New York, graduated from SCAD in 2014 with a B.F.A. in writing, and has kept himself consistently busy since. Now a Senior News Assistant at The New York Times, Rosen is also a visiting research scholar at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and a participant in the 2017 Fulbright Berlin Capital Program.
Based in Brooklyn, Rosen said he had not been a reader of fiction before arriving in Savannah. Instead he read military history books and Stephen Ambrose.
“Coming to Savannah, I garnered an insatiable voraciousness for Julian Barnes, Hermann Hesse, Charles R. Jackson and Graham Greene,” Rosen said. “I attribute that shift to the timelessness of Savannah. I began to crave a different era and skipped a lot of my classes, choosing instead to read and walk around and write. I wanted to write like my literary heroes but did not know where to begin. So I started contributing to local publications. Working with experienced editors in the early stages of my career was invaluable to my education.”
Rosen’s involvement with District helped him secure a second internship followed by a “stint” writing for the Savannah Morning News. Shortly after, he moved back to New York to work for Mashable, an online media outlet Rosen described as “much like District.”
“I leveraged what web design and social media practices I had learned in student media to seamlessly transition into a newsroom whose stories received somewhere north of 1 million page views per month,” Rosen said. “At District, we had only just passed 70,000 per month. I treated District as if it were my sole commitment. I think taking my time there seriously, working long hours and writing and producing stories of which I was proud helped me later. Nothing on a resume can outshine a passionate portfolio.”
That mindset put Rosen on the path back to New York. The New York Times hired Rosen while he was completing his senior year, something he never imagined would happen.
“Students shouldn’t sweat the ‘what comes next?’ so much as they should sweat the ‘what could I be doing now,’” Rosen said. “My professors and editors gave me — perhaps absurdly — the latitude to write and publish what I wanted, in the styles I wanted. I still yearn for a time when I wasn’t beholden to multiple deadlines and strict stylistic protocols.”
Rosen remains in contact with his former student media adviser Allison Bennett and keeps her posted on upcoming projects including a few big ones that he hints will be released next year.
Though Rosen said he had extra time to write and develop his craft after SCAD at Columbia University’s M.F.A. program, he still wishes he had spent more time pitching stories. In-class workshops, according to him, benefit writers both professionally and socially beyond the classroom.
“Now I have to rely on outside support to sequester time and space in which to write and report,” Rosen said. “I yearn to time travel backward and spend four years reading and writing all over again.”