Mr. Conniff is a third-generation newspaperman and the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Frank Conniff. A graduate of Harvard with honors in history, he cut his teeth as a copy boy and then a reporter on the San Francisco Examiner, The Baltimore News American, and The Boston Herald. He has been the television columnist for The Real Paper in Boston, a syndicated television columnist throughout New England, and the originator in the early 1990s of the new media column in Editor & Publisher, the Bible of the newspaper business. He was also editor-at-large for both the Aspen Daily News and Aspen Peak magazine. As a freelancer, he has toiled for a raft of news organizations, including Associated Press, Newsweek, Computerworld, Newsday, Hartford Courant, Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times. His cover story on the Nike cross-trainer was featured the year In Health won the National Magazine Award; he established the Aspen bureau of New West the first year it won the Online News Association award for General Excellence. In all, he has started three independent news services: Media News Service, Interactive Sports Wire, and Post Time News.
Mr. Conniff left newspapers because he foresaw the promise of the online world in the late 1970s, fifteen years before the importance of the Internet became obvious. In 1980 he joined the consulting firm Link Resources as manager of database development and managing editor of Viewdata/Videotex Report and Online Database Report: at Link, he became the first industry analyst to publish a report detailing the importance of electronic mail and messaging to the future of the online medium. After being fired from Link for bringing his company online, he became the first full-time employee ever hired by NBC in new media, and then entered the world of electronic commerce in 1983 as manager of interactive services at American Express Co., with express responsibility for travel, insurance, and brokerage products.
He then led his own consulting firm, High Comm Group, for ten years, and completed assignments for clients large and small, including General Electric, Citicorp, Pacific Bell, AT&T, and Reuters. For Citicorp, he designed Citicorp Global Report, the first international online service for end-users and the first such service to ever achieve profitability. For Reuters, he was the lead consultant spearheading Reuter TV 2000, the news provider’s attempt to integrate video into its global offerings.
Sports have always been an important part of Mr. Conniff’s life. At Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut, he received awards both for Best Athlete and Best Athletic Leadership. He was captain of the basketball and lacrosse teams at Canterbury and selected All-Conference in lacrosse and as a Western New England all-star in soccer. For five seasons that included multiple NCAA appearances, he was the color commentator for radio and television broadcasts of the University of Vermont’s women’s basketball team. For obvious reasons, he considers the two summers he spent as a ballboy for New York Jets—before and after their one and only Super Bowl victory—to be one of the high points of his life.
After High Comm Group, Mr. Conniff co-founded Interactive Sports Inc. and became its chairman and chief executive officer. The company started by developing video database systems for teams like the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association and the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League, then morped into a consumer media company that produced over 100,000 stories for company-owned brands like Women’s Sports Channel, Urban Sports Network, Nutrition.com, and X Ice, a joint-venture with the NHL New York Islanders. The company also provided sports content to Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen network, and developed and operated the interactive information network at MCI Center, one of the first such systems of its kind in the world. Interactive Sports also became the leading purveyor of sports content in the wireless environment, with eight times the traffic of MSNBC and USA Today in head-to-head competition.
In addition, since 1978 Mr. Conniff has pursued a career in fiction. At Harvard in 1980, he became not only the first and only Journalism Tutor in the college’s history, but also the first writing instructor to use word processing as a teaching tool. The author of more than a dozen published short stories, he was nominated by Tim O’Brien and selected as a Sokolov Scholar in Fiction at the Breadloaf Writers Conference. His play THE MADNESS OF HATTERS was performed in a workshop by Theatre Aspen, and his novel DROP DEAD BEAUTIFUL, a mystery set in Aspen, appeared online in serial form on Aspen Post. For the last fifteen years he has been writing THE BOOK OF O’KELLS, a multiple media work of fiction based on his mother’s family that includes novels, a novella, mysteries, a play, oral histories, book reviews, forewords, afterwords—and anything else he can think of, including the novel CHILDREN OF THE O’KELLS on Facebook.