larry rulison '94

 

deadline business

%519%left%On the newly renovated top floor of an office building just steps away from the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Constitution Center and with panoramic views of the Delaware River and New Jersey to the east, a gangly young man in a small cubicle bends over a word processor cranking out story after story about anything and everything that relates to business in modern-day Philadelphia,from the good ("Insurer finds success by sticking to its knitting and treating employees well") to the neutral ("Bankruptcy stats may not tell whole story") to the not so good ("Philadelphia corporate tax rate the highest in the U.S.").

Meet Larry Rulison '94, the youngest staff reporter for the Philadelphia Business Journal. Happily, Rulison has a knack for finding stories, a necessity for a writer expected to deliver one or two of them a day for the Journal's Internet site as well as four or five stories a week for the hard copy of the paper. (Whew.)

Rulison's path from his hometown of Syracuse, N.Y., to the City of Brotherly Love took some interesting turns along the way. He chose Colby mainly for the beauty of the campus and the great access to hiking and skiing. "I wish I'd worked harder," he now admits. That said, Rulison honed his skills for reading and writing in college and, as he said, "At the end of the day, that's the best base you can get for doing what I'm doing now."

He developed his taste for exploration during his junior year abroad at University College Cork in Ireland. "My English professor, John Sweney, led about twelve of us on a fabulous program. We lived in the city, studied James Joyce and Irish history, and traveled all around Ireland. It was all about straying from the beaten path and exploring, dealing with different people and engendering trust, assimilating to the culture and becoming Irish. And that's what I do today in the Philadelphia business community."

Rulison began sharpening his nose for news right after graduation by freelancing (for "free," literally) with the Eagle Newspapers chain. Soon after, as fate and luck would have it, the death of an editor at the Canastota Bee-Journal, one of the chain's small papers (circulation 2,000) in New York state, landed him a full-time, multi-responsibility slot at that paper: "I learned right on the spot, serving as reporter, editor, sports writer, even photographer." After brief stints at other small weeklies within the chain, he got a job at a daily paper, The Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake, N.Y. At a paper in an area where, he said, laughing, "a dog falling into a lake is big news," he quickly rose to the rank of city editor, the second-in-command at the paper.

%520%right%But in 1998 the lure of city life led Rulison to Boston and a position at a small newsletter, The Mutual Fund Market News, where he began to focus on his current specialty: business writing. A year later he became a reporter for the Baltimore Business Journal, then moved to the Philadelphia Business Journal in 2003.

But back to the story or, rather, the stories. How does Rulison get material for all the stories he must write? "It's a scramble," he said. "I do a lot of networking, meeting people and handing out business cards. I go to the state and federal courthouses to see what's been filed. I'm constantly on the phone with contacts. And I go online to search for documents. I always keep my eyes and ears open."

Every Thursday brings added stress, as Rulison and fellow reporters must pitch their stories to the Journal editorial board. "After a while, you learn what is news and what is not news," he said.

But familiarity with the business of conveying business news remains a fascinating challenge. "I learn something every day about a new industry or product or job," Rulison said. "It's always exciting and fast-paced. And when I break a story and beat the dailies, my heart really gets pumping."

,David Treadwell