Katina Paron: An Icon for New Journalists
By Yamila Martinez
For more than 15 years, being an educator journalist has shaped Katina Paron as an icon for new journalists who have found their voice and first publications in media outlets through her.
Paron is the Twitter queen for thousands of teenagers and youth who learn through her educational tweets on the social media platform.
Paron launched A NewsHound’s Guide to Student Journalism, a graphic novel, in 2018. The book was ten years in the making. It started with the idea that graphic novels would be a great way to SHOW young people how to do journalism versus the traditional textbook that TELLS them how. “I wanted to create something that filled the gap between what students were learning at scholastic publications and what they needed to know to write professionally,” she says. “The fun part of journalism is doing journalism…when you take journalism and put it in the list of do’s and don’ts, it doesn’t come across as exciting.”
Katina has written about youth journalism for different media outlets including the New York Times, The Daily News, WNYC SchoolBook and more. She is currently a journalism professor at Hunter College.
NYWICI: What are the tips that you would give to a student journalist who wants to build a portfolio?
Paron: The key is to get as many professional published clips as possible to show the range from somewhere else. It’s better to have more from different publications than to have a lot from one publication. Editors want to see the different types of writing that students can do. Being able to get that experience is key.
NYWICI: How do you get experience when you don’t have any experience?
Paron: There are a couple of ways: using the content that you produce for your journalism classes, writing for your school publication, volunteering to write for places outside of school and building your network by joining journalism organizations. Every clip matters.
NYWICI: What are the “must have” pieces in a portfolio for students to get internships or jobs?
Paron: Have multimedia content: audio, video, podcast—even if you think that you are not good at it yet, showing that you can do or can learn these different phases makes you a more flexible hire. Having a bigger skillset will make you more needed when you have an internship.
NYWICI: What are some technical tools that could help a journalist applicant to stand out in the job search?
Paron: What matters is that you can teach yourself something. Students should know WordPress, analytics, SEO and audience engagement. Any student who has the opportunity to take a data journalism class should take it.
NYWICI: What are the challenges and advantages of being a journalist student in this digital era?
Paron: It’s easy to find people and reach out to people. As a student you have the advantage that people want to help students. Don’t wait until after college to reach out to people! Follow people on social media and reach out to them. The disadvantages are that there is so much information, and you have to deal with misinformation. Things are a lot more partisan now, even in media publications. I think that partisanship is hard for new students to figure out what side they are supposed to be on. It’s hard to toe the middle line when everyone seems to be taking a side.
NYWICI: What tips would you give to students who may not be where they want to be yet but want to be there?
Paron: Apply for everything: fellowships, scholarships and internships. Don’t let your lack of experience stop you from applying for something that you are interested in. Go to panels and meet people. Let people help you.
Yamila Martinez is a 2021 NYWICI scholarship winner and a rising senior journalism student. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.
If you’d like to connect with Katina Paron, you may do so here: