Four award-winning journalists and Penn alumni spoke to students about their career paths and the necessity for journalists to develop diverse skills at the Kelly Writers House this Thursday.
The annual event, titled “Careers in Journalism and New Media,” featured 2005 College graduate Ashley Parker, 2012 College graduate Jessica Goodman, and 2016 College graduate Jill Castellano, all of whom currently work in journalism. The panel was moderated by Penn lecturer and 1979 College graduate Stephen Fried, a bestselling author who has written seven nonfiction books.
Parker, Castellano, and Goodman spoke about their careers in news media and gave advice for students interested in pursuing journalism. They said journalism can be an unstable profession and stressed the importance of learning multiple skills.
All three of the panelists have won major journalism awards in the past two years. Parker, a White House reporter for the Washington Post, was part of the team that received a 2018 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting on the exploration of Russian interference in the 2018 presidential election.
Castellano worked with a team from the USA TODAY Network that won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting for a project on the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Goodman is currently a senior editor at Cosmopolitan Magazine and won a National Magazine Award in Personal Service with her team last year for a section explaining how women can run for office.
“You can’t really be a one trick pony anymore,” said Goodman, a former editor-in-chief of 34th Street Magazine. She said she has tried to learn design and photo skills in her work as an editor.
Castellano, a former editor-in-chief of The Daily Pennsylvanian, agreed. She talked about her decision to attend a data journalism training program after graduation, which explored how data analysis can be used to find and create stories. She added that the skills she learned have helped her in the job market.
“I think that this [program] really launched my career,” Castellano said. “I have found a lot of places that are hiring for people with these skills.”
Parker urged students pursuing journalism careers to “be a little platform-agnostic” and choose to work for publications such as Politico, Buzzfeed, and Huffington Post that will give them the most field experience and help them learn skills.
Panelists agreed their experiences as student journalists helped prepare them for the professional world.
“I was glad that I had time to be an editor, because then it helped me get a job as an editor,” Castellano said. “Learning some of those management skills early on were helpful.”
Students agreed that the event helped them learn more about careers in journalism.
College freshman John Woodward said that he was interested to learn about different internships and programs that Penn offers to support students interested in journalism.
“I think [the speakers] are a testament to the quality and caliber of writers we have here, and how Penn kind of sets them up to go out in the journalism world and succeed,” Woodward added.
Bayliss Wagner, a sophomore at Swarthmore College, said that she wanted to attend the event because of her work as a news editor on the Swarthmore Phoenix. She added that she was particularly interested to hear about Castellano’s work in data journalism because she is studying English and computer science.
“[Castellano] has those skills, and that provides her with a little more stability,” Wagner said.
Laura Wagner, a junior at Swarthmore College who is a managing editor on the Swarthmore Phoenix, said that she appreciated hearing about different ways to work in journalism.
“It was a good breadth of panelists,” she said.
The panel was sponsored by The Daily Pennsylvanian, the Nora Magid Mentorship Program, and the Povich Journalism Program.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.