Kevin Loker

If you’re a Student Newsroom alum headed to ONA15 in Los Angeles, hit us up ahead of time. We’re planning a get-together for beer, catching up and to help us think through how best to connect all of the great “graduates” in the future. Feel free to contact me at kevin.loker@pressinstitute.org.


When the 20 young journalists from around the world settle into the ONA15 Student Newsroom later this month, they’ll be starting on an incredible journey to learn, practice and network. A few days, bylines and karaoke-filled nights later, they’ll join the ranks of the 200 hand-picked students who have covered 12 conferences since 2003, many of them now doing some amazing work in digital media.

We have strong evidence to back that up. With ONA’s blessing, I dug a bit into the alumni and crunched some data to get a snapshot of who they are and where they are now. The result is like a mini-road map of career development in digital journalism.

Full disclosure: I was one of these alum (Class of 2010, represent). If you are, as well, you are most likely included in our research, which involved a look at your LinkedIn profile and data compiled from information publicly accessible online. (Most everyone was easy to find, many on a few platforms; some were not.)

Here’s a tip-of-the-iceberg look at “where they are now”:

  • The largest portion of alumni work for journalism organizations. While some work in communications and other careers outside of journalism, at least 93 alumni work directly for a journalism shop, such as the Austin-American Statesman or an online-only site like Mashable. Others do freelance work, many with news organizations, though a notable number freelance through more general media consulting. Communication jobs at businesses and non-profits also are marginally represented in this group.
  • A small but impressive subset work for technology companies. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Medium, Storify, Hubspot and Twitter are on a few resumes.
  • Most alumni employed at news outlets work for newspapers (about 40 percent), 25 percent work in TV, and 14 percent work at online-only publications. Magazines were less frequent, as were wires.

Some more specific examples and job titles:

  • The New York Times: Ashley Southall, (Newsroom ’07, Howard University) is a breaking news reporter. Jeremy Merrill, (Newsroom ’11, Claremont McKenna College) is an interactive news developer. Brian Hamman,(Newsroom ’04, University of Missouri) is Director of Development, New Digital Products.
  • Washington Post: Matthew Nelson (Newsroom ’11, Drake University) is a front-end developer. Frank Yankof (Newsroom ’11, Kent State University) is a homepage producer. Caitlin Dewey (Newsroom ’10, Syracuse University) is a digital culture critic.
  • NPR: Eric Athas (Newsroom ’07, UMass-Amherst) is ‎senior digital news specialist 
  • The Huffington Post: Ethan Klapper (Newsroom ’10, American University) is global social media editor 
  • The Texas Tribune: Annie Daniel (Newsroom ’13, University of North Carolina) is a news apps developer
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts: Jevonya Hughes (Newsroom ’08, Norfolk State University) is senior associate of digital analytics
  • While there are a number of new web job titles, “reporter” still rules. That title was far more common than expected from this digital group. Consulting / freelancing / running own thing also turned up frequently.
  • Two alum ended up as ONA board members. Juana Summers, (Newsroom ’08, Mashable) and Will Sullivan (Newsroom ‘03, 18F).

Last, here are quick demographics:

  • 70 schools are represented. University of California, Berkeley is the most represented, followed by the University of Southern California, Ohio University and American University, and schools that were located near the conference in a particular year, such as Ryerson University in Canada. More than half of the schools represented had only one student cover the conference.
  • Student journalists have come from universities in 23 states and three countries. Students have join the newsroom from France, Finland and Canada. California alma maters are the most represented, followed by New York, Maryland and Ohio.
  • There are nearly three times as many women as men. Our tally is 143 women and 57 men. All in all, a remarkable track record, one that points to a healthy present and future for digital journalism.

NEW Google LogoAnd, of course, in true newsroom spirit, we’ll hand this dataset over to the Student Newsroom participants at ONA15 — with many thanks to Google, whose five-year sponsorship has allowed support and resources for the students to grow exponentially.

Kevin Loker is a very proud ONA10 Student Newsroom alum. He is program manager of the American Press Institute, a nonprofit organization that conducts research, convenes leaders and creates tools to advance journalism. He works with the center’s research, training projects and in-person events, contributing to API original research and working with the center’s consultants and fellows.