Meet ONA Local: Jessica Estepa

By on March 28, 2017

Meet ONA Local is a new series introducing the volunteers who lead our ONA Local communities. ONA Local is at the heart of what we do, bringing networking and training to cities and college campuses around the world. Leaders have their fingers on the pulse of their journalism communities, convening important conversations and networking opportunities.

Jessica Estepa is the lead writer and editor for USA TODAY’s OnPolitics blog, and co-leads ONA DC. Join the Meetup group.

What do you love about your work?

I’m a month into a new job at USA TODAY as the new lead writer and editor for its politics blog. After taking a break from covering politics and government, it’s great to be back in the swing of things — especially since I’m now part of a team covering the Trump administration. It’s already been an interesting ride, to say the least.

Tell us about something you’ve worked on in the past year that you’re super proud of.

During the aforementioned break, I was at National Geographic, where I worked on a team to relaunch the organization’s homepage. The redesign was the combined efforts of editorial, design and product to create something that truly represents one of the best known brands in the world. So much love to that team.

What’s your passion project outside of journalism?

I sing a lot. In two choirs, in a competitive karaoke league, in the shower, in my car. It keeps me sane.

Tell us what’s amazing about the digital journalism community in DC.

We have people doing everything, literally: experimenting with VR and drones, launching new products, digging into investigations. I’m amazed every day by the kind of work this community does. There’s so much that I can’t keep track of it all, to be honest.

When did you first know you wanted to go into journalism?

I think it’s one of those things that I’ve always known. My mom likes to tell people about how I used to pretend to be a news anchor when I was little. I made a kids-only newspaper when I was 8. I was editor of both my middle school and high school papers. I’m one of those kids — and proud of it.

Tell us about something great you’ve read, watched or listened to lately.

Everyone should watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It’s the smartest thing on TV (and a musical to boot). AND the first two seasons are on Netflix. You’re welcome.

Tell us about someone who’s profoundly influenced your career.

Debbie Bruno, who is the reason I am in D.C. in the first place. She offered me an internship and then she offered me my first full-time job, both at Roll Call. I don’t know where or who I would be without her. Thank you, Debbie!

What’s your six-word memoir?

Do Not Spill Your Coffee, Estepa


Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy is ONA's Director of Programs. She is currently leading the AI in Journalism Initiative and ONA's emerging technology strategy. She is responsible for creating programs and initiatives to train ONA members and connect them to tackle big issues facing our field.