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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Oh, the places you’ll go: Daily alums who work in international journalism

Daily alums reflect on the connections between their work at the Daily and in professional international journalism.


Graphic by Carmen Smoak

Editor’s note: The Daily’s editorial department acknowledges that this article is premised on a conflict of interest. This article is a special feature for Daily Week that does not represent the Daily’s standard journalistic practices.

From the basement office of the Daily, it can be hard to see the places that college journalism might take you. However, the lessons learned through late night production sessions, hours of fact checking and countless emails to sources and writers are all part of the strong foundation that the Daily provides its members.

Many Daily alums go on to work in journalism across the U.S., but a select few find themselves much farther from the Medford/Somerville campus pursuing careers in international journalism.

No matter where Daily alums end up, the paths they take to get there are as diverse as the alumni themselves and the careers they hold within journalism. Joshua Berlinger (LA’12) followed his passion for working in a newsroom to become a freelance journalist in Paris, France. Also working in freelance journalism, Jordana Timerman (LA’05) uses the skills she learned while working for the Daily in her current career as a journalist and political consultant in Argentina.

Currently working as a copy editor for the Korea Times, Seohyun Shim (LA’20) incorporates his knowledge from the Daily to update copy editing norms abroad. Finally, incorporating her passion for both journalism and economics, Saumya Vaishampayan (LA’12) worked in financial journalism before returning to school and becoming a lawyer.

While these may all seem like disparate paths into international journalism, they all started, at least in part, in the same Curtis Hall basement that the Daily occupies to this day.

Looking back on their journalistic journeys, each of these Daily alums attributed their love of journalism and many of their skills to the time they spent working for the Daily.

Berlinger spoke to his experience of joining the Daily as a photographer and then working his way up to being a photo executive and developing his love of working in journalism.

“I learned to really love working in a newsroom [at the Daily]. I liked the energy. I liked being in the newsroom. And that was … something I came to appreciate [and contributed to] why I wanted to continue to be in newsrooms in my professional career,” Berlinger said.

During his time at Tufts, he started to lay the groundwork for a career in journalism through internships and connections.  

“I knew I liked working in the newsroom. I really liked working at the Daily, so I thought maybe I'd get an internship,” Berlinger said. “I talked with [the Film and Media Studies Program] and they helped me get a couple of internships. That led to internships out of the college. That led to jobs out of college, and I just said, ‘I’ll do it and if I like it, and if I don’t, or if I can’t find work, I’ll try something else.’ That was 10 years ago.”

Vaishampayan, a former Daily managing editor, also worked toward her previous journalism career through internships during and after her time at Tufts.

“I think after that semester doing the managing editor gig, I realized that I wanted to pursue journalism after college. … I was an [economics] major. And so, I talked to a lot of Daily [alums] actually, and I decided that maybe focusing on financial journalism made sense and I did a bunch of internships, including while I was at Tufts … and ended up getting a full-time job at a publication called MarketWatch,” Vaishampayan said.

While both Berlinger and Vaishampayan found a love for journalism while working at the Daily, Shim knew he wanted to pursue the field before applying to Tufts. He chose Tufts largely because of the Daily, despite the university’s lack of a journalism department. He spoke to the importance of working in college journalism before moving into the field professionally.

“I wouldn’t have had the jobs I had or the job I have right now if it weren’t for the Daily,” Shim said. “I often find that … people who have experience writing for their college newspapers are often better trained and better prepared to get their journalism career started, even compared to people who graduated with journalism degrees with no experience writing for their college papers.”

Echoing this sentiment of college journalism preparing writers for the field, Timerman spoke to the skills she learned at the Daily that have supported her over the years.

It’s hard to overstate how formative the Daily [was] and [how much] the exercise of writing every day, of fact checking, of having that level of responsibility as a writer and as an editor, … helped when I entered the job market later,” Timerman said. “I think [the Daily] was one of the most important aspects of my college education and it was an extracurricular.”

Propelled forward into journalism beyond Tufts, these Daily alums have all found themselves working in international journalism at some point. Between the four of them, they have acquired a wealth of journalistic expertise that spans four continents and several focuses.

Their similar beginnings have opened pathways that encircle the globe, with lessons learned along the way being just as diverse as the paths that led to them.

Berlinger explained how international journalism is a great opportunity for young journalists starting their careers after college.          

“There are a lot of advantages to being a young freelancer and going to a place where there’s a lot of need for journalists and not necessarily staff,” Berlinger said. “When you’re younger like that, you don’t necessarily need to live off as much. You can live cheaply, and you can do the groundwork of being a freelance journalist [and] making connections.”

Being young and willing to hustle in a new environment can be a formative experience for a writer. Berlinger discussed the lessons he has learned while reporting in Hong Kong and Paris.

“You learn a lot about yourself, a lot about the world. The fundamentals of journalism don't change though, no matter where you go,” Berlinger said. “There’s different challenges. There’s the obvious language [barrier] challenge. There are cultural differences … but what you’re trying to do is the same. … You’re trying to create the same sort of stories, make the same sort of impact.”

Sometimes, even though you’re telling the same type of stories, the way that you tell them changes in an international setting. Shim explained the importance of understanding different writing conventions across languages.

“Journalistic conventions and news writing differs a lot depending on what language you’re writing in, and a lot of it I had to sort of learn on the job,” he said.

Shim continued to discuss the importance of being proactive while copy editing in international journalism.

“At the Daily, we use the AP Stylebook, or we have the Daily Style Guide that are naturally set up in a way that reflects the latest trends in U.S. journalism. But style guides at newspapers in Korea get updated late, so I do find myself playing a more proactive role in updating those style guides and explaining the nuances behind certain phrases and expressions,” Shim said. “When I explain the updates or changes that are made to the AP style [guide], or the New York Times style [guide], a whole lot of people, or the reporters I used to work with and [currently] work with, think there's some political agenda behind it, or motive.”

What you write and how you write it matters, especially when engaging in journalism across different cultures, languages and world views. The lessons that these Daily alums have learned through working internationally are deeply impactful and connect to more than just journalism.

Vaishampayan worked as a financial journalist in Hong Kong before becoming a lawyer. She spoke to the lessons learned from and connections between the two fields.

“Journalists and lawyers have a lot of traits in common. They don’t take anything for granted. They ask a lot of questions. They have to write all the time,” Vaishampayan said. “I think those are skills that really translate. And just like you can change your beat in journalism, you can change your focus in law. They’re kind of these broad fields where you can specialize in different subject matters.”

Asking questions and not taking anything for granted are vital life skills that experience in international journalism supports. Overall, these Daily alums have learned to see the world through a variety of lenses by constantly learning while reporting in new environments.

“You get the love of being a student a little more [by working in international journalism]. There’s a reason newspapers all around the world used to have the model of sending correspondents somewhere for three or four years and then sending them somewhere else. It was expensive, but it gave your journalist a fresh eye in how to see a different part of the world,” Berlinger said.

Timerman echoed this sentiment, citing the impact of seeing beyond oneself to uplift and value all lived experiences.

“I think that one of the nicest parts of journalism is that it gives you these windows into other people and their realities and gives value to those realities, rather than just one arguing or preaching something,” Timerman said.