Hi y’all! My name is Lea and I’m the Newman’s Own Fellow at WSHU Public Radio, an NPR affiliate station in Fairfield, Connecticut. I’m originally from New Orleans, proud daughter of Jamaican and Ethiopian immigrants, and I spent four years at Princeton University studying politics and Latin America.
I was nervous when I initially accepted this fellowship post in February of last year. My experience with journalism was pretty limited; aside from high school internships and writing opinion columns for my university’s paper, I had very little real-world experience with producing news.
There was a steep learning curve to the job. Radio journalism is a very unique sector of the field. While content is just as critical, reporters must also focus on getting sound-rich clips to give listeners a sense of the scene. The writing is also much different from that of print. It’s much more to the point, with a distinctive flow and narrative so that listeners can remain engaged. I’d argue that radio reporting is the most straightforward in the sense of form, but because that form is the opposite of what we’ve been taught in formal settings, returning to that natural narrative is a constant challenge.
Working at a public radio has been particularly interesting when we consider today’s constant attacks on journalists and their work. We’ve also seen the rise of “fake news,” in which people spread disinformation to mislead and polarize the public.It’s a tumultuous time to join the world of journalism, but I can’t think of a better moment to do so. Now more than ever, people need good journalism. That has been my driving factor in all of my work: Stories on the first immigrant family suing ICE for abuse in family detention; the growth of clean energy in Connecticut; new, free clinics for the uninsured; and the Women’s March movement and what participants are doing to channel that energy into political action.
It’s a breathless field. There is always something new happening, people whose stories need to be shared, public servants who need to be held accountable for their actions. But the truth, and ensuring that the public has access to it, has never been more critical.
I am the one all the way on the left, but am joined by other Newman’s Own Foundation Fellows at the Stamford Women’s March.