Jason Cochran (BSJ93) is editor-in-chief of Frommers.com, the digital presence for the well-known travel guidebooks. Among his many responsibilities, he assigns and coordinates all content on the site, does interviews for TV and radio, writes, edits, travels, engages with readers on social media, and weighs in on consumer issues. He has also authored several Frommer's guidebooks. (For more on travel, check out his site jasoncochran.com or follow him on Twitter @bastable.)
During school, several of his Medill professors warned students that if they ever spelled a proper noun incorrectly, it would mean an instant fail. “We lost many nights' sleep over it at the time, but it was the right way to approach the work,” says Cochran. Many young writers on the web believe that as long as they have a platform, they're journalists. But that isn't so, he says. “If you have a platform, you have an audience, which isn't the same thing. Accuracy and ethics — the kind that Medill taught — is what makes a journalist, and those high standards are what makes a brand endure.” Many bloggers who think they're journalists are actually selling an identity, but when Medill graduates pitch Cochran an idea, he knows that they probably have a higher standard than the norm.
Cochran often repeats a favorite quote he heard in school (and recites it in the voice of a grizzled newspaperman who grumbled it): "If your mother tells you she loves you — check it out!" Though he says it’s “hilariously nihilistic advice,” it’s worth following. “Especially in travel writing, if you haven't seen things for yourself, you aren't doing your readers any favors,” he says.