Featured Member: Catherine Traywick

By on March 19, 2012

Current Location: Berkeley, Calif.
Current Gig: I’m a full time Master’s student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and, as part of my program, I’m also a reporter at Oakland North, our hyperlocal news site. On the side, I’m an assistant features editor at Hyphen, and I freelance when I can.
Member Since: January 2012
Six-word memoir: Cut my teeth on feminist theory.
Favorite fictional character: The inimitable Frasier Crane.
Favorite tech tool: iPhone. It’s an all-in-one reporting machine.

What happens during your average day?

Sadly, very little writing and very little designing (the best parts of my job). Instead, I spend 90 percent of my time making phone calls, writing emails and generally trying desperately to get bureaucrats to answer my questions. I also pet kitties as often as I can.

Why did you choose to get involved with online media?
Because it’s impossible not to be involved in online media if you’re going to be in media. There’s also fantastic potential to reach new and varied audiences through new and varied outlets.

What led you to apply to graduate school for journalism in this uncertain climate?
I needed multimedia skills, mentorship and resources. I am a writer by trade and inclination but that’s a solitary activity that can only take you so far.

You’ve worked for two major independent media outlets — Ms. Magazine and Hyphen. What did they teach you about the nature of media?

Mostly, that it’s changing rapidly and if you can’t keep up, you’ll quickly become irrelevant. Ms. is making great strides in that area since we developed the Ms. blog. In a short period of time, the magazine went from having virtually no web presence to being a major web presence and our readers are getting younger and more diverse than ever. Hyphen has long had a web presence and has a great web team. Now we’re trying to figure out how to make our online content more specialized, dynamic and accessible and we are developing a few different projects along those lines.

If you could wave a wand and change something about our current media environment, what would it be?
Investigative and other kinds of deep reporting would be the norm and not the exception. Reporters would be amply compensated for pursuing important, rather than easy or popular, stories. News would be produced with the public interest in mind and news organizations would encourage their staff to report analytically.

If you had a million dollars dedicated to improving media, you would …

Invest in the education and training of journalists of color so that 1) they can better cover their own communities and 2) begin to shape the coverage and direction of mainstream publications which tend to lack diversity in both contributors and content. That said, I made like $14k last year so I’m not really sure what all $1 million could buy.