University of South Florida St. Petersburg



Alumni Profile: Jeremy Bowers, global chief technology officer for Politico

Jeremy Bowers

By Matthew Cimitile, University Communications and Marketing

Jeremy Bowers never thought he would wind up in a job with “technology” in the title.

“When I was in college, I wanted nothing to do with computers,” he said with a laugh. “I wanted to go into law, but I did badly on my LSAT.”

But with a father who was a database administrator, Bowers had a familiarity with the industry and took an IT job for the local newspaper until he could figure out his next move. 

Instead of moving on, he fell in love with the world of tech in the newsroom. He learned to code and began programming apps and modes of news delivery right when they were revolutionizing journalism. 

From the Tampa Bay Times, where he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for developing the fact checking website Politifact, Bowers went on to work for National Public Radio (NPR), The New York Times, where he built and maintained tools for reporting, and The Washington Post, serving as director of engineering and leading a team in supporting newsroom publishing tools.

Bowers was recently named the global chief technology officer for Politico, a position that oversees all technology operations for one of the most important news outlets in the world.

We talked with Bowers, who graduated from USF St. Petersburg with a degree in Political Science in 2006, to hear about his unique position with Politico, working on the tech side of journalism and the importance of developing a diverse skillset for future career paths. This interview has been edited for length.

When you think of news, most people probably think about reporting and writing. Why is tech and programming so valuable to the modern newsroom?

My first job in news was at the St. Petersburg Times [now the Tampa Bay Times] in 2006. We had maybe five or six programmers in the whole building. My job, like most others working in tech for newsrooms back then, was providing IT support. 

Well, the world of news and the newsroom itself has rapidly changed in that short period of time since I started. The number of programmers who work in newsrooms has risen dramatically. And it’s not surprising because tech is largely the means for the distribution for news - through websites and email newsletters and apps – and it is engineers and programmers who build and maintain that distribution. 

What will be your job duties at Politico as the new global chief technology officer?

Politico has a newsroom based in Washington D.C. and an international newsroom in Brussels and looking to expand to California. The newsrooms have acted independently for the most part, but the general plan moving forward is for a unified brand and experience across all newsrooms. 

Really, we want to combine the best parts that have evolved independently into one organism. For technology infrastructure, that means building on the strengths of the people, products, user experiences and apps we already have and enhancing the delivery of that technology as Politico grows globally.

What got you interested in journalism and working on the technology side of news?

When I was at USF St. Petersburg, I majored in Political Science and minored in English Literature. I wanted nothing to do with computers. I was planning to go to law school but did badly on my LSAT. My dad had been a consultant for years and a database administrator. So, I decided to get a job in IT support at the local newspaper until I figured out what I wanted to do. And I loved it. I learned to write software and then started to just grow into the position. Never would I have guessed this would be my career path. 

What are some of the most memorable projects you have worked on?

I was very lucky that the first big project I worked on won a Pulitzer, which was Politifact [a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others]. It was a heck of a way to start! 

I also loved a project I worked on at NPR about the show Arrested Development. We developed a program that charted every joke told on the show. That was an absolute blast. 

And there were always fun and informative projects to work on with the Times and Post. I have been extremely lucky in the variety of projects and products I have been a part of and fortunate to work with so many great people over the years.

What made you choose USF St. Petersburg?

My wife a I lived in Northern California. She came across a job she was interested in at the St. Petersburg Times and applied and got it. So we packed up and moved to St. Petersburg around 2004. 

When we moved, I still needed another year and a half to finish off my degree, so I began looking at some of the local colleges in the area. I remember the first time walking onto campus and it was just glorious. It was a beautiful campus and just enough student life taking place but also so many spots you can go to for quiet and studying.  I majored in Political Science and there were some terrific professors in that field, so sharp and smart. It was a great experience and I wouldn’t have traded that time for the world.

Any advice for current students looking to break into a similar profession in the news media field?

When I began college, software engineering wasn’t really that much of a discipline. And thinking that you would do software engineering in a newsroom was just madness. Advice I would give students is that your future job might not even exist yet. 

More and more jobs are a unique combination of disciplines that haven’t been combined before. So don’t worry about following the path. I know there is comfort in having a path laid out, but the general truth for all of us is the future is a hazy place, which is why having a nice broad based of skills is so valuable.  

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