On deadline

September 20, 2018

Alumni, Portrait

In May, business journalist Mohammed Hadi, ’98, landed a plum assignment: news director of The New York Times’ Business Day section.

During his undergraduate days, Mohammed Hadi, ’98, wrote for The Collegian and took some journalism classes. But as a political science major, becoming a journalist wasn’t in the offing. After graduating, he went to work for a New York hedge fund.

Hadi quickly realized that finance wasn’t his calling and switched gears — to reporting on it. Fifteen years into his journalism career, Hadi has been named the news director of The New York Times’ influential Business Day section. Looking back at his indecisive early 20s now brings a wry smile.

“I always had [journalism] in my head. The truth is, I didn’t have the guts to see it through then,” Hadi said. “For whatever reason, I just wasn’t focused enough. I just didn’t see that path when I was 21, but I did by the time I was 26.”

Hadi built his bona fides in the media industry steadily. After earning a master’s at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, he established himself as a respected international business journalist with his work as a reporter at the Dow Jones Newswire. He relocated to Hong Kong for a stretch, managing reporters all over the world for The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg in Hong Kong. After returning to New York, he took the next step in his career progression, working as the executive editor of Business Insider prior to accepting his New York Times position.

“I’ve always looked at my career as, ‘I need to build the experience that I can then take to the next position and build upon what I’ve done,’” he said. “And now, I’m pulling all of that together into this job.”

It's a different level of intensity, which also makes it exhausting. But it's exhilarating at the same time.

At the Times, Hadi coordinates the newspaper’s business coverage online and in print, with an emphasis on being responsive to the needs of readers. It’s a newly created position, and his responsibilities vary daily, but a few months into his tenure, Hadi is enjoying the historic paper’s pace and reach.

“I may be working on a breaking story or helping on a story about Tesla one day and then the next day, it’s the trade war and President Trump and the economy, and the next day, it’s about the stock market,” he said. “That’s kept me on my toes. The impact that you feel when you’re in a place like the Times, it’s palpable. You know people are reading, and you know your readers are scrutinizing what you write, and they’re paying very close attention to the language you use. It’s a different level of intensity, which also makes it exhausting. But it’s exhilarating at the same time.”

The resources of the Times — its ability and willingness to send reporters to far-off locales in pursuit of stories, and importantly, the knowledge and talent of his colleagues — have also wowed Hadi.

“This is a newsroom where I feel like I can learn a lot from the people around me, people who have worked on Pulitzer Prize-winning projects,” he said. “Every day I get to interact with them, I learn something about my profession. If I can, I want to be in the newsroom for the rest of my career.”