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Alumna Profile-Taylor Newman
Alumna Taylor Newman finds quick success in journalism
By Alex Pistole
The Washington Post is no trifle news organization; in fact, it won six Pulitzer Prizes in 2008 alone. It comes as no surprise for anyone who knows her, then, that The Post was where 2015 graduate Taylor Newman had her sights set after graduation. Now that she has accomplished that goal, she is raising the bar even higher.
“Right now, my position at The Post is entry level. It’s a foot in the door that I’m hoping will lend itself to more responsibilities,” Newman says. Even though it’s been less than a year since she crossed the stage on Heth lawn, this is her second position at a major newspaper.
Newman double-majored at Radford, focusing on both journalism and Spanish, as well as playing on the varsity tennis team. Her competitive, professional and hard worker traits landed her an internship with USA Today during her sophomore year.
“At USA Today I was able to write stories, make photo galleries, practice reporting and interviewing and get an inside look at the workings of a renowned newspaper,” Newman said. This was a major factor in helping to land her current job as a sports aide at The Post.
She also cites her position as the sports section editor at The Tartan during her sophomore year. These experiences helped her grasp how newsgathering outside of the classroom really works, and prepare to kick-start her career.
Newman found journalism and Radford through her love of tennis. Her parents sent her to an ESPN sports broadcasting camp, according to a profile on her as a Dean’s Scholar award winner earlier this year. This was where she realized how much she enjoys covering games and players, doing play-by-plays, and writing news stories. Even though she has little time for leisure anymore, she still makes tennis a part of her life and career.
“While working at The Post by night, I am also teaching tennis at the Chevy Chase Club during the day,” Newman said. She describes the club as “ritzy” and a great place to play, with clay courts and all.
As a sports aide, Newman works with a staff of about 10 editors and bloggers over night. She specifically helps organize local high school game coverage results and designs photo galleries, while also putting together the scoreboard and baseball pages of the print paper.
“My goal is to help on the tennis beat,” she says of her goals at The Post, “hopefully writing some stories, and covering high school sports once they start back up in the spring.” This would be similar to what she was doing when she worked at Radford’s student-run newspaper.
“Student media helped a ton,” she says. “The editors loved seeing that I worked with the school newspaper.” She describes her internship and extracurricular activity as the key factors in helping her land a coveted position after a lengthy interview process with one of The Post’s editors.
“As sports editor, I got practice in managing staff, designing pages, writing headlines and checking for AP style errors,” all of which are skills sought in the multifaceted role of an employee at a major paper today.
Newman describes what she learned in Radford classes as laying the groundwork for what she is currently doing in a professional capacity. The difference, she says, is the pace. “Everything is faster paced and evaluated by a higher standard. Deadlines are deadlines. There is very little wiggle room.”
There’s no way a classroom environment can 100 percent accurately represent a real-world environment, but Newman does fall back on what she learned here in college. “Most of what I learned in the classroom has been apparent in some shape or form at both newspapers,” Newman says.
“Two classes stand out as having been good preparation for my work,” she explains. Namely, Electronic Newsgathering, where students learn how to report via a variety of different media, and Journalism Portfolio, where class members write and arrange content into an online portfolio: a showcase for potential employers. Newman’s website and work are still used as an example for students currently in the class.
Another indispensible skill she credits to her time at Radford is something she learned in Electronic Newsgathering.
“We practiced ‘writing tight’,” she says. “When writing recaps, I have to pick out the most important information from a lengthy article to put together a short summary. This skill holds true in headline writing too.”
Newman was an exceptional student here at Radford, and no doubt will prove to be an invaluable member of the team at The Washington Post. If her example is to be taken as a lesson to those currently hoping to find work in the news industry, the take away should be to continually seek as much experience as possible.