ONA Weekly #391: Four Inspiring Journalism Mentors

By on December 22, 2021

This is the last issue of ONA Weekly for 2021. As usual, we are pausing the newsletter during the final week of the year to make space for rest and reset. Thank you for reading, and we look forward to re-engaging with you on more resources and opportunities for digital journalism in 2022.

Four inspiring journalism mentors

We recently asked about your journalism mentors and how specifically they have shown up to support you and other peers. See what some of your fellow readers shared about their favorite mentors.

Rolfe Neill, the former publisher of The Charlotte Observer, has been my journalism mentor since sixth grade when he hired me to write a column called, “Kid to Kid.” When I launched EdNC, he sent me this note, which I carry with me to this day:

  1. Numbers are one measure; what’s the best measure of our new work?
  2. What did I fail at this week?
  3. Where are we making a difference; how do we know? 
  4. Remembering that serious work should never be done by humorless people: Are we having fun?
  5. Accuracy above all.
  6. No article should be started without reflecting on Pascal telling his friend: ‘I would have written you a shorter letter if I had more time.’
    “Always, Mebane, I am with you in spirit.”

That last part, knowing someone is with you in spirit 24/7, is the best part of having a Rolfe in your corner.

– Mebane Rash, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, EducationNC

The one and only Benét Wilson. This year and every year for the past decade or so she has held my hand through career and life transitions, helping me to chart out professional and personal paths more rewarding than I could have imagined for myself. At each step, she has an example I hope to follow and model for my own mentees.

– Meena Thiruvengadam, Writer, Editorial Consultant and Journalism Trainer

Asmaa Malik, professor and former graduate program director at Ryerson University, took a leap of faith in supporting the school’s decision to hire me as a part-time lecturer back in 2018. She helped me navigate some very challenging situations in my first year, and has been an on-going pillar of support to me ever since. I am indebted to her for the steadfast patience and leadership skills she demonstrated during that year and continue to look up to her as both a faculty member and editorial leader for the wider journalism community.

– Shenaz Kermalli, Independent writer with focus on geo-politics and Journalism Lecture at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies

Kelsey Proud is one of my greatest mentors. One of Kelsey’s greatest strengths as a mentor is her unfailing ability to bring her whole self to the way she leads — she’s one of the most compassionate and thoughtful newsroom leaders I’ve ever worked with, and those qualities uplift both those she works with and the audiences her work engages. Kelsey has the rare gift of seeing the potential in those around her and empowering others to rise to that potential and exceed it.

– Mary Tyler March, Strategic Planning Editor, WAMU 88.5 American University Radio


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Letter to Twitter: Don’t silence reporting on anti-extremism

ONA joined the International Women’s Media Foundation, Canadian Association of Journalists and 30 other media leaders and journalism organizations in a joint letter to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal regarding recent changes to the platform’s private information policy. Far-right activists are leveraging the new policy, which allows for the removal of media posted without the subject’s consent, to target the content and profiles of journalists and researchers who specialize in anti-extremism.

“To us, one thing is clear — in the absence of clear and publicly available guidelines and definitions, we believe that this policy will continue to be misused against journalists and members of civil society.” Read the full letter.

Promote your work to the ONA community

A moment of thanks to our ad partners who help support ONA’s programs and this newsletter year-round.

The ONA Weekly is one of the most popular ways to get messaging in front of our global community. If you are looking to promote new products, events, surveys, fellowships, call for pitches or speakers, workshops or other resources that align with ONA’s mission to inspiring innovation in digital journalism — we want to hear from you! The next available ONA Weekly ad space is for Feb. 16. Contact Jessica Strelitz, jessica@journalists.org, to schedule your campaign. Discounts are available for start-ups, educators and multi-issue runs.

On the calendar

Career opportunities

ONA’s Career Center is an excellent resource for jobs, fellowships and internships in digital journalism. Recent postings include:

On our radar

What do you think?

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