Throughout its time as a publication, The Post has seen some talented journalists. Several Ohio University Post alumni who have graduated within the past few years have found that The Post has helped to prepare them for not only their careers, but for facing adversity like the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Seth Archer graduated in 2017 and is currently a business director for Insider Inc., formerly known as Business Insider. While at The Post, Archer was a digital managing editor, digital media editor, photo editor, campus reporter, staff photographer and stringer photographer.
- Alexis Eichelberger graduated in 2019 and is currently a law student at the University of Akron School of Law. While at The Post, Eichelberger was a Culture reporter, Culture staff writer and Culture editor.
- Marisa Fernandez graduated in 2018 and is currently a health care reporter at Axios. While at The Post, Fernandez was a longform editor, senior writer, Culture section editor and copy editor.
- Bennett Leckrone graduated in 2019 and is currently a Report for America corps member and a government reporter for Maryland Matters. While at The Post, Leckrone was a senior writer and longform editor.
- Alex McCann graduated in 2019 and is currently an associate copy editor and page designer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While at The Post, McCann was a digital managing editor, copy chief, Culture reporter, copy editor, columnist and blogger.
The Post talked with some of our publication’s alumni to see what a day in their lives are like, why they initially joined The Post and how The Post helped them get to where they are now.
The Post: What does a normal day in your work life entail?
Archer: So on a day-to-day basis, I'm working with my small team to kind of grow revenue for a couple of different business units regarding work with sales, product, editorial, etc., to come up with new ideas and make more money. And, ultimately, the goal is to hire more reporters to do more great journalism, things like that, on a day-to-day basis. It's a lot of Slack; it's a lot of emails; it's a lot of Zoom calls recently. Just trying to stay in contact with people, come up with new ideas, move things along.
Eichelberger: So day to day for me is mostly homework. Law school is a different level of workload than undergrad, at least for me with the degrees I pursued in undergrad. I spend a lot of time reading case books, briefing cases, preparing for classes. Currently, I'm working on a couple different projects for classes ... I'm doing a complaint, like what you would file to start a lawsuit, and I'm also working on a trial memorandum, which is a persuasive document that you submit to a judge trying to persuade them to rule in your client’s favor. Obviously, those won't really be submitted to any courts, but I'm practicing for the future, hopefully. Also, right now, I'm in the midst of applying for and interviewing for summer associate programs, which are like internships, and so I'm hoping to hear back from one of those soon so I can get started on that in the summer and work in a law office for the first time.
Fernandez: I've been covering health care for about three months now. But I've been covering the pandemic ever since it began in a breaking news and general assignment sense. So currently, I write stories from health policy, and I cover every aspect of the pandemic, when it comes to the data. The news cycle on COVID-19 is extremely fast right now, and so we're trying to figure out and assess what we need to write for readers to better understand what's going on in the world and across the country and on a personal level as well (as) what they need to do to figure out and stay safe and get through this time. We write everything from policy perspectives to what's going on in the White House and on Capitol Hill. I do a lot on data, and I do a lot on mental health and different disparities that people are experiencing in the pandemic right now. My day to day has changed a lot since the pandemic. Typically, what a reporter would be doing is running around trying to get connections with people who have answers. So they would be calling and emailing people, which is what I still do on a day-to-day basis, and I log in to press conferences and try to get people who know more information than I do, to be able to write different kinds of stories. Mostly what I've been doing is in a virtual sense, just because it's not necessarily super safe for anybody right now.
Leckrone: A typical day for me either involves staying here on the eastern shore or going to the statehouse in Annapolis to watch the legislature vote. The only problem is that the legislature is still pretty restricted due to the pandemic. So a lot of meetings, especially committee meetings and even press conferences from advocates, will take place over Zoom. I spend a lot of my day catching up with sources over phone calls, texts, just whenever I can to sort of get the bigger picture and see what's going on behind the scenes because it's not like I can just grab someone as they're walking down the hall in the statehouse. And I can't just physically be there all the time to get a good picture of who's meeting with who and what's going on, so catching up on that is actually the bulk of my day.
McCann: I work for the Post-Gazette as a copy editor and a page designer, which means I work the night shift: I work 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. My week is not Monday through Friday; my week is Thursday through Monday, which is a weird thing to think about, but you kind of get used to it. As a copy editor, I do many different tasks, depending on the day, depending on who's working, depending on whatever my boss decides needs to be done. For the most part, I read copy, make fixes, spelling, grammar, fact checking, bias — you know, normal copy editing stuff. Some days, I also do pagination. When I paginate, I usually do the business section, but I've also done the local section and done parts of the A Section, which contains the top news of the day and national and international news. And then on Sundays and Mondays, I am the wire editor, which means I pull wire copy from the Associated Press, The Washington Post, The New York Times and a few other places, but usually those three, and I decide what's the most important stuff for our readers to go in the paper to balance between our local copy and the wire copy with the national and the international stories. So my day-to-day life is pretty boring to be honest, especially during COVID-19. During the pandemic, I've stayed home almost all the time. I really only go to go to the grocery store or to have a COVID-safe visit with my parents.
TP: Why did you join The Post, and what did you love about your time on the staff?
Archer: I think I joined The Post because I was a journalism student, and I wanted more experience and outside of the classroom experience. And The Post definitely gave me that. I think I ended up loving it though because of the people that I met there. I'm currently marrying not only a Bobcat, but a Postie sometime soon. I also met college roommates and lifelong friends there; I stay in contact with a lot of people that I met at The Post. And that was really, I think, a valuable experience.
Eichelberger: I joined The Post when I was a freshman at OU. I just thought, “OK, this is something I'll be able to put on my resume. I'll be able to assemble some clips for my portfolio to give to employers during the internship and job search process.” But it ended up becoming my whole personality. I just fell in love with the newsroom. I made some of my best friends in school there, and I loved it. My senior year, I stepped into a leadership role, and I was the Culture section editor, which was a lot of work but the most fun, and I had the greatest group of people on my staff.
Fernandez: One of the reasons why I really loved The Post was that it was an amazing space where you could figure out what you were passionate about and what you were passionate writing about. I'm super appreciative that we had that space to have fun and experiment and learn from your mistakes because that's really what being a college journalism student is about. You get to go into a space and do the best that you can and then look back and figure out what you learned and what you should have done better. I think that's what's so amazing about writing in general and about journalism in general is that you are constantly improving, and there's no ceiling to how good you can get. And you can just keep doing that for 10-20 years down the road. It's super great to be able to do that in a space with your friends and around people who are super supportive of you.
Leckrone: When I was a freshman, I didn't have connections in the journalism industry. I didn't go into journalism knowing people who were already reporters and editors. So I feel like I lacked the confidence that I needed to apply for jobs to put myself out there. And Posties, whether it's my editors or people I worked with and wrote with, those were the people who encouraged me to apply for internships, to put myself out there and to write stories that I was passionate about and to pursue a career in journalism. I’ll also say there are things that you learn at The Post just in practice, in writing, regardless of where you're at, that you just can't really learn from a class alone. Whether it's managing community relations as part of your job and reaching out to community members and getting feedback and accepting feedback on your stories – that's really important in journalism – having confidence to apply and having confidence to put yourself out there but also being able to work with people and be part of a team. That's something I learned at The Post, and I really don't think that I'd be where I am today if I hadn't started my career at The Post and taken that first step.
McCann: When I joined The Post in the fall of 2016, I wasn't sure if professionally journalism was what I wanted to do, and I was struggling socially because my freshman group of friends had kind of broken up. I was not sure what to expect, but first of all, it taught me that journalism was what I wanted to pursue. It reinforced my desire to go into this field, and it helped teach me the skills that now have helped me to be successful in it. And socially, it helped bring me to a bunch of great people, many of whom I'm still in touch with, who I consider very close friends, all because of The Post. I also love The Post because, like I said, it taught me skills that I still use to this day. Our late nights producing the paper on Tuesdays and Wednesdays were some of the best times I ever had. They were so fun, even though we were working so hard. But it also taught me a lot of skills that I use still in my job today — and not just copy editing skills, but it also taught me time management, how to work on a deadline, how to exchange ideas with other people, how to settle debates when things need to be quickly decided. I was always really impressed with how many great people I got to interact with, just based on the fact that I worked for this news organization.
TP: How did The Post help you get where you are now?
Archer: The network as you go into the world after The Post; you know a lot of people all across the country and around the world. And that's not really possible without having joined that newsroom.
Eichelberger: In addition to being a student, actually, I am still a little bit involved in a journalistic position for about two years now. I've worked for Provokr Media, and I actually got that position through a friend of mine that I met at The Post. The skills that I learned in the journalism school and especially at The Post are very translatable to what I'm doing now, maybe not at face value. I don't think people would automatically think that being a journalist segues easily into being an attorney, but I think that learning how to take a lot of information and research very carefully and fact-check and interview people and get them to open up to you and trust in you to tell their story and advocate for them through words is something that lawyers do all the time, and it's also at the heart of journalism.
Fernandez: It was able to help me get the communication and the writing skills that really beef you up ahead of competitors. Media is a really competitive space, and media is really limited in terms of jobs right now. But I think what really sets Post people apart from other news organizations in college media is that The Post essentially is just a huge collaborator, and there's not a lot of places that you get the academic support to creatively put out stories consistently. Also, the alumni network was really amazing. A lot of people I knew that had graduated had also worked for The Post in major metropolitan areas like New York City and Washington, D.C. and L.A., and a lot of those people ended up going to great places, and it was just a great connection to have ... if you ever intern or ever get to go in the city.
Leckrone: Regardless of what I'm doing in my job, whether it's writing on deadline, whether it's reporting on a difficult issue, catching sources at the last minute, brainstorming a long story, a follow up, an investigation, that's a skill that I built at The Post. Even though I wasn't covering state politics there, it's something that I learned to do there at a very basic level. Because the thing about The Post is that when I was a freshman in 2016, I really didn't know what I wanted to write about. I knew I wanted to go into journalism, but I didn't have a good grasp on exactly what I wanted to do. And the beauty of The Post is that you can write newsletters, you can write Culture, you can write for The Beat, you can write hard news if you want and you can figure out what you're passionate about, but also almost more importantly, you can figure out what you don't want to write about in a career, and I think that's really important, too.
McCann: The Post deserves so much credit. First of all, the skills I gained at The Post have been crucial to my work at the Post-Gazette. Without The Post, I would not be here — full stop. And I certainly wouldn't have the skills to work at this job. From there, I was able to grow into a professional copy editor, which is crazy to think about.
For more on these alumni, check out the “Day In The Life” video, below.