Local news journalists meet with English class for panel and lunch

By Heather Fabritze
Elm Staff Writer

The Living Writers: Journalists class hosted the second event in their Living Writers: Journalists series on Tuesday, March 8.

The panel, which was held in Bunting Hall at 10 a.m., featured journalists from publications local to the East Coast. Like the series’ previous talk from nonfiction writer Earl Swift, the event was hosted in conjunction with Visiting Assistant Professor of English Sufiya Abdur-Rahman’s Living Writers: Journalists class.

Student members of the class and the campus community had the opportunity to talk with the journalists over lunch at 1 p.m. in Hodson Hall.

One of the first journalists introduced was reporter for the Delaware Business Times Katie Tabeling ‘14. Tabeling started her writing career as an opinion editor at The Elm, where she learned how to live in a community while also reporting on it, before moving to outside internships.

These internships included positions at the Kent County News and a newspaper in Wisconsin. She was then offered a job at Ocean City Today.

According to Tabeling, it was her time at this publication that gave her a love for local political reporting.

“I was going to city council meetings in the middle of winter and nobody was going to those,” Tabeling said. “I went to every single commission meeting, planning commission meeting, parks meetings, things like that. I just learned so much about how a city operates and there’s so much that people don’t know about how their local government works.”

While Tabeling appreciates the extensive work that goes into national political reporting, she said that she greatly prefers the local angles that come from widespread events.

“My point of view is there are good stories and it’s a national conversation, but it’s happening in your backyard,” Tabeling said.

Team leader and writer at Axios Charlotte Emma Way ‘16 came from a similar local background. Much like Tabeling, she worked for The Elm before moving onto an internship at “Delaware Today Magazine.”

Way became a journalist due to her love for talking to others and learning about everything in her local community.

“All good stories start on a local level first,” Way said. “All stories in general, I think —  there’s hyperlocal elements to all of them. And leaning into that and knowing your audience, that’s crucial.”

The final reporter on the panel was diversity, equity, and inclusion reporter for The Baltimore Sun John-John Williams IV. Prior to his current position, he worked at other publications including the Kansas City Star, Chicago Tribune, and Detroit Free Press, as well under every section imaginable.

According to Williams, his position at The Sun was one that he “curated” himself after many years in the field.

His favorite part of being a local journalist is the ability to tell stories that national reporters may be unwilling to tell.

“Just knowing that you have made a difference and you’ve given a voice to people who just don’t have one, I think that that’s really powerful,” Williams said.

All three of the visiting journalists agreed and focused on one idea above all else ­— that at the heart of every national story is the reporting done on a local level.

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