I think, therefore I REVEAL
English BA '03
WFPL Executive Editor
Career and professional interests:
Journalism and writing.
How is your degree in English useful as a journalist?
My work in English helped me learn to be a more careful, active reader. And that helped me become a stronger writer. Being able to recognize layers of meaning in even the most straightforward writing has helped me immensely as an editor and journalist.
Why did you get into journalism as a career?
I've always loved reading, writing and art, and I was seeking out a career path that would engage that part of me. Journalism was a way to earn a little money as a writer. Of course, like however many millions of young Americans who come out of college with an English degree, I was convinced it was only temporary until my Great American Novel was published. I don't want to dissuade the next Fitzgerald out there, but it didn't end up happening for me. And while that wasn't happening, I was falling in love with journalism.
Favorite class as an undergrad?
American Lit. I'll never forget the spark I felt the first time I read Langston Hughes. I knew there were so many things in the world I didn't understand.
What's the best part of your job?
That's always changing. Every time I hear from someone who was personally affected by a story we've done, it marks a new high point for me. My favorite used to be seeing my work and that of the reporters I edited in print. Now it's listening to that work on the radio. It's still a thrill, and I hope it always will be.
What story has had the biggest impact on your career so far?
The first time I went to Eastern Kentucky, as a younger reporter more than a decade ago, I saw mountaintop removal mining up close. I met so many people whose lives had been derailed by a force over which they had no control. It was shocking to me — up to that point, I knew what I'd read, but I hadn't stood in someone's house and looked at the cracks in their walls from nearby blasting. I hadn't seen their water supply that had been turned to an electric yellow. It made me aware of the toll of extraction, and it heightened my skepticism of those who have power in almost any situation.
Advice for current students.
I'll share a good one from Professor Emeritus Jeffrey Skinner (English): Never stop reading. And never give in to the forces that come to drain your enthusiasm.