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New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger '77 shares stories and advice with USM

Portrait of Neil Genzlinger

New York Times' critic Neil Genzlinger '77 talked about his prolific career and today's newspaper business during a whirlwind April visit to the University of Southern Maine.

The stay included an interview with WCSH-TV's "207" (click here to watch), an interview with USM President Glenn Cummings for an upcoming episode of "The USM Update," a public discussion at the Glickman Library and a sit-down with editors at the student-run Free Press, which he edited in his junior and senior years at USM (then called University of Maine Portland-Gorham).

Genzlinger with Free Press editorsThe skills he learned at the Free Press helped prepare him for a long career in journalism, he said.

"You got a tiny little sampling of all aspects of the business," Genzlinger said of his Free Press experience. "By the time I graduated, I had the rough idea of how a newspaper was put together. That served me well all the way through."

With David PiersonHe counseled students looking for a job in today's journalism market to not only write well but learn to take photos, shoot video and post to social media. They must also be ready to learn skills unimagined today.

"The jobs available to you in 10 years haven't even been invented yet," Genzlinger said.

His first professional job was as the Franklin County bureau chief for the Central Maine Morning Sentinel, a job he held for four years, covering all types of news in Farmington and throughout the county. He left the Sentinel to earn a master's degree in journalism at Penn State. After graduating from that program, he went to the Hartford Courant and the Washington Post before moving to the New York Times in 1994.

He has been there ever since.

with Caroline Cornish at 207After a variety of jobs — working as an editor on the National Desk, the Op-Ed Page and the Culture Desk — he transitioned to become a critic. He is the only critic on the New York Times' staff who reviews TV in addition to movies and theater, though he is best known for his many TV reviews.

He has accumulated more than 3,000 bylines at the newspaper.

"My niche at the Times is to explore the outer fringes of television," he said. "I write about the animated stuff on Adult Swim, stuff with weird and sick humor. I'm the only person at the paper who seems to get those shows."

He lives with his family in central New Jersey.

Read a detailed feature story about Neil Genzlinger here.