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Pressing Forward: Journalism Week features distinguished alumni

by Sydney Rhodes

Time Magazine named “The Guardians” Person of the Year and featured journalists including staffers of the Capital Gazette; Annapolis, Maryland’s local newspaper. In the pool of Capital Gazette staffers seen on the cover, Selene San Felice, UT ‘16 alumna and a feature reporter, was one of them.

San Felice, a former editor of The Minaret, will return to UT to share her story amongst other journalism alumni working in the field. As a survivor of the Capital Gazette shooting in June 2018, San Felice will share her experiences in her career to UT students pursuing a future in journalism.

“As a victim of gun violence and a reporter, I’ve learned a lot about what it’s like to be on both sides of the story,” said San Felice. “What it’s like to be reported on and what it’s like to report on tragedies, just like mine.”

The journalism program will host the first annual Journalism Week, which will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 26 and 27. The events will host four UT alumni, who are working as reporters, multimedia journalists and producers.

The week will begin with the UT Journalism Distinguished Alumni Award Ceremony on Tuesday, March 26, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m in the Sykes Chapel. San Felice will be awarded and will also feature as the keynote speaker of the event.

“I’m really looking forward to coming back to a place that I call home and the place that first gave me a chance to begin my career in journalism,” said San Felice.

Alongside San Felice, Orlando Sentinel safety injustice team news reporter, Tess Sheets ‘17, will be speaking at the Careers in News Media Symposium on Wednesday, March 27, from 5 p.m to 8 p.m. in the UT Lowth Entrepreneurship Center.

Sheets, a former editor-in-chief of The Minaret, currently covers crime and news between the Orlando police department, fire department and jail.

“This is one of the most rewarding careers,” said Sheets. “Seeing your work and something you have worked so hard on published in the paper is still so gratifying. I still feel like I learn new things every single day in this career.”

Sheets says she is excited to explain how the journalism industry is evolving and the sheer power of the field during Journalism Week.

“Every day I’m learning how I can be better at my job and how to be a good journalist with integrity,” said Sheets. “Being in a newsroom really expands knowledge and I hope to share that with the UT students.”

Megan Myers ‘17, multimedia journalist, anchor and producer for WMBB News 13 in Panama City, will also take part in Journalism Week. Myers currently fills in anchor positions and produces multimedia packages while writing and editing and has been with WMBB for over a year now.

While she has been with WMBB News 13, Myers reported before, during and after Hurricane Michael in October 2018.

“When I reported on Hurricane Michael, I really grew as a journalist,” said Myers. “It made me realize how important my job is because I was literally delivering life saving news during a time where the public needed it most.”

Myers said she worked 16 days straights after the hurricane passed through and their own roof of the WMBB News station had collapsed in. After 6 months of recovery, her station is still covering stories on recovery efforts.

“This whole situation has been really tough, but more importantly it has shown me how important it is to be there for your community as a reporter and how important it is to post that life-saving information,” said Myers.

Alejandro Romero ‘18, multimedia journalist with Sarasota’s Suncoast News Network, said he’s excited to share some of his experiences as a journalist and give as much advice as he can.

“While I was a student at UT, I met some alumni and got to hear from their experiences in the journalism world,” said Romero. “But, I never thought I would be one of them, sharing my own stories now.”

On a daily basis, Romero, a former multimedia editor for The Minaret, said he does a little bit of everything in the newsroom, including photography, videography, producing, and reporting. He typically covers local news and feature stories with Suncoast News.

“I think these types of events are super important,” said Myers. “It’s important to pick the brains of people who have actually be out there and report in the field. I’m so excited to come back to the place where it all started for me.”  

Sydney Rhodes can be contacted at sydney.rhodes@theminaretonline.com

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