Campus Scandals and Global Crisis

After Barney Gimbel 02C worked stints at Newsweek, the U.S. Department of Defense, and in London finance, the former Emory Wheel editor-in-chief found his professional home in global strategic communications.

By Bethany Greene 20C
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It’s safe to say that former Emory Wheel editor-in-chief Barney Gimbel 02C hasn’t had the most linear career trajectory. 

After a robust journalism career at Newsweek and Fortune magazines, seeking a new adventure, Gimbel switched gears completely to work for the US Department of Defense in Iraq and Afghanistan. He later moved to London to work in investment banking and now is a managing director at Finsbury, a global strategic communication firm that specializes in crisis and financial communications.

“Strategic and crisis communication seemed to be the natural intersection of government, journalism and banking,” Gimbel says. “It reminds me a lot of journalism and my days at The Wheel—you never know what's going to happen once you walk in the door.”

As disconnected as these paths may seem at first glance, there is a common thread connecting all of Gimbel’s career experiences—storytelling. Whether he is influencing investors, advising clients, or guiding a major corporation through a crisis situation, Gimbel’s career successes can be attributed to his mastery of the art of storytelling, a skill he developed and refined during his time at The Emory Wheel.

As a Wheel news editor, Gimbel has reported on everything from fraternity scandals and Student Government Association (SGA) mishaps to a missing-person investigation. His impressive portfolio of coverage reflects his natural curiosity and interest in truth-seeking. 

Despite the countless all-night grinds in The Wheel offices and the pressures of producing a paper with consistently high-quality content twice a week, Gimbel still holds his experience at The Wheel in high regard, crediting it for his resilience and acknowledging the immense impact it had on his life.

The Wheel taught me to be curious, it taught me to be relentless, and it taught me how to tell a story” Gimbel says. “It had an incredible effect on my life and everything I did along the way.”

Barney Gimbel in 2000

From the Emory Report archives: Emory junior Barney Gimbel has been named the 2000 Reporter of the Year by the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) and the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP). Gimbel, who is from Los Angeles, is news editor of The Emory Wheel, He received the award in November at the National Collegiate Media Convention in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work at Emory, Gimbel worked as a full-time news reporter last summer in the DeKalb County bureau of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Photo by Jon Rou.

How did you get involved with The Wheel?

It all comes down to a girl. There was a woman in my dorm freshman year and she was going to a Wheel information session. At the time, I had a little interest in journalism but a lot of interest in her. So I followed her to the meeting. She didn't stick with it. I never ended up dating her, but I ended up being the editor of The Wheel.

What were your first impressions of journalism as a career?

I got hooked. One of my first assignments was to cover the Carter Town Hall. On one side of me was a reporter from The New York Times. On the other side were reporters from The Wall Street Journal and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I thought, “Wow. This is pretty cool. I get to write about the same things these people write about.” So I just stuck with it. Journalism is a bug you catch, and once you have it, it’s really hard to shake.

What was the most memorable story you wrote?

I got a tip that the senior leaders of SGA were dining out on students’ money. It turned out that they were going to a champagne brunch at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, at $100 a person, and charging it to the SGA account, which of course is not allowed. At first they denied the story, but then we published the signed credit-card receipt on the front page of the paper.

What are the first words that come to mind when you think of Emory and why?

The Wheel. My time at The Wheel really defined my time in college. If you were a big part of the newspaper, you practically lived on the fifth floor of the Dobbs University Center, where the newspaper office was located. 

Why did you choose Emory?

I remember going with my parents to see Emory and, almost instantly when stepping onto campus, it felt right. It was international. It was exciting. It was different from where I grew up. Emory felt like a good place to be, and it turned out I was right. 

How has Emory influenced your career?

Emory introduced me to a world I didn't know. It made me curious about history and politics and international relations. I got to study abroad as a part of the journalism program, and we spent the summer as reporters in South Africa. It was only a couple of years after Apartheid ended, and we were working as reporters in Capetown. It was just this incredible experience of learning about history in a practical way. What attracted me to journalism was that it was a front row seat to history, and Emory prepared me to sit in that chair. 

What media do you consume?

I really enjoy reading the newspaper in print. I read The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal every day. I also listen to NPR on the subway.

Editor’s Note: Bethany Greene 20C is a senior from Spartanburg, SC majoring in economics and minoring in architectural studies. She enjoys music, writing poetry, and changing her career path every two weeks. 

It’s been 100th anniversary of the first issue of The Emory Wheel. Over the course of the year, we’ll be checking in with some Wheel alumni. This is the first in the series.

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