The view from the cafeteria

I’m an Australian journalist, in New York because I won a Walkley, which is better known in these parts as an Australian Pulitzer. Over the past two weeks I’ve been lucky enough to visit some of the most important places in the American media.

The endless stream of meetings with journalists and editors have all taken place in the places employees go to top up their mugs.Here I’ll dissect each of these common rooms, and tell you what I learned.


In this incredibly well-stocked cafeteria my hosts and I chatted about the ‘health’ of the platform while drinking free, hand-made beetroot and kale smoothies. I decided to showed some of the staff at Twitter tweets (and this) from my colleagues back home who are critical of the platform. They were open to listening, and told me about some impending changes they hope will make journalists feel safer on the platform.


The exposed wood and artisan coffee of the Quartz coffee area makes me feel like I’m at a café in my hometown of Melbourne. We keep our voices down as we discuss plugins and eat pretzels, so as not to disturb the serenity and higher thinking vital for Quartz’s very particular type of analysis. In the lunch break the team gather to see who has been judged winner of the internal cookie bake off. A sophisticated, humble, well-executed shortbread is crowned winner. This seems fitting.

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The New York Times

As I sit and enjoy my roast carrot and cauliflower salad I am joined by various talented people, all of whom are working on a book. My meetings are short, sharp and to the point. Often there’s still coffee in my mug when my hosts have to rush off.

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We discuss serious investigative journalism over free lime seltzers. Not far away, a camera crew is creating viral food videos.


As I stare out onto the grandiose spire of the Columbia University library and try to think of funny yet uncontroversial things to say about the canteens of the places that so generously hosted me, I am offered a cup of tea. It’s the first time I’ve even thought about tea since stepping foot in this city. It’s nice to slow down.

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Oliver Gordon is a journalist based at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Alice Springs, working across local radio and radio current affairs.