Class of 2002: Koski keeping up with the Times

Ben Koski is seen in Tokyo last spring at a conference before the International Olympic Committee on the future of news and reporting.
Ben Koski is seen in Tokyo last spring at a conference before the International Olympic Committee on the future of news and reporting. Photo courtesy of Ben Koski

Editor's note: The high school graduates of 2002 were the first to enter the post-9/11 world. Their careers and adult lives have been shaped by two wars, a shortage of jobs and the Great Recession. The Day asked nine of the seniors profiled at graduation time in 2002 about how their lives now reflect the dreams and ambitions they had then.

New York - Ben Koski not only came of age during a period of rapid technological changes, but also fully participated in them.

Since graduating as valedictorian of Lyme-Old Lyme High School 10 years ago he studied at a liberal arts college and worked in consulting. The 29-year-old now works at The New York Times, where he has contributed to web projects on election results and the Olympics.

The career that developed in his post-graduate years has roots in activities from his years growing up in Old Lyme.

Koski, who moved to Old Lyme from Southern California when he was 12, first began working on the newspaper in middle school by a chance happening. One day during an activity to build a geodesic dome, his teacher forgot the necessary book and instead suggested starting a newspaper. As Koski began working on the publication, he said he enjoyed the whole process from taking photos to laying out the newspaper.

In high school, he worked with some of his middle school friends on the newspaper and transformed the paper from a xeroxed quarterly to a monthly publication on real newsprint, he said.

While studying towards a bachelors degree in Urban Studies at Haverford College, he continued to pursue journalism by working on the newspaper, first in print and then working on a website, which had new features such as the ability to survey student opinions.

"I realized there was a real powerful potential of technology to make journalism more effective and powerful," he said.

In his professional career, Koski has worked in the graphics department at The Philadelphia Inquirer and at a consulting job in Silver Springs, Md., where he helped non-profit organizations design and develop technology systems.

At a post-graduate internship at the Poynter Institute, he also worked on an "EyeTrack" study researching how media organizations can best engage readers - and how those discoveries might apply to web journalism.

Now at The New York Times, Koski said he feels fortunate to have landed at a news organization committed to digital innovation. He was part of the development group that helped integrate 2008 election data into the website in the form of interactive maps, charts and tables. He was also a senior developer in building multi-dimensional web platforms for data from the Olympics.

Koski remains open-minded about what his future holds.

"I think the older you get, you realize the less you know about the future," he said.

Being in the field of technology makes one "acutely aware" of the shifts that time brings, he said. He has seen how new technology platforms can quickly transform. He also said the next five years will continue to bring changes to the media industry.

Indeed, Koski has lived his early adult years in a time of speedy digital growth. Growing up information was available in the form of telephone books and trips to the library, but in his 20s information has become instantly accessible.

"I think it's always amazing to me how much is at your fingertips," he said.

While Koski enjoys the access to information, he also realizes the importance of focusing on the what is important, rather what is immediately available.

Koski said he has gained perspective by having varied life experiences and studying different cities in college.

Reflecting on his early experiences, he said he feels fortunate to have had many "open-ended opportunities" that allowed for creativity while growing up.

When he comes from New York City to Old Lyme, he notices the shift to a smaller town. One aspect that always strikes him when he visits his parents in Old Lyme is the beauty and inspirational quality of the landscape.

"I feel very fortunate to have grown up there," he said.

And while he is grateful for the opportunities he has had in life that helped foster his creativity, such as attending a small school with just over 100 students in his graduating class, he credits his parents for encouraging him to succeed.

"I think that had a lot to do with my success," he said.

k.drelich@theday.com

Ben Koski stands in front of his emptied-out locker at Lyme-Old Lyme High School just before graduating in 2002.
Ben Koski stands in front of his emptied-out locker at Lyme-Old Lyme High School just before graduating in 2002. Photo Courtesy of Ben Koski
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