Class of 2020: Where are they now? Kelly Kimball

The next generation of journalists graduated in 2020 into a challenging job market unlike any other. We spotlighted them this summer, shared advice from their role models, and are checking in with them this month to see where they are now and what they’re learning about journalism. 

Kelly Kimball

Name: Kelly Kimball
School: American University
Current job: Social Media Editor, Foreign Policy magazine 
New wackiest story: Explaining the Chilean term “facho”

Where are you working right now? Is the position full-time, part-time or an internship?

Kimball: Currently I’m a full-time Social Media Editor at Foreign Policy magazine. I’m also a freelance multimedia journalist with commissioned photography and feature reporting in local and international publications.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job search?

Kimball: Tenacity, grit and enthusiasm are rewarded. It makes you a better leader and journalist. Also, as you report, always ask yourself: Who isn’t in the room? Who hasn’t shared their voice on this beat, topic, or news peg? What person, place or thing has the most to lose? Answer those questions, and you’ll find yourself deep into an underserved take that many readers will appreciate. 

What’s been your best moment in journalism since graduation?

Kimball: My best moment in journalism since graduation was winning a Front Page Award this past October for work I had done on Instagram to promote Foreign Policy’s Fall print edition. It was the first time that it was awarded to a social media product instead of a graphics team. I have had many incredible opportunities since then to be enterprising and creative in my work, helping translate wonky international arguments into fresh digital experiences for a global social media audience. I’m also proud to have been invited as a guest by professors at the University of California Irvine and American University in Washington, D.C., to discuss audience editing and freelance reporting with college journalists.

What do you wish you had learned as a student that you’re learning on the job?

Kimball: I wish I had learned more of the art of cold-pitching and acquiring editor contacts (it should be a constant assignment in every J school class). Also, it’s an essential skill to be able to explain why a newsroom should pursue a specific story, series, product, or audience initiative—and to do so with KPI and ROI in mind. Data-driven decision-making is an important skill to acquire, too. Learn SEO!

Have your journalism goals changed since graduation, and if so how?

Kimball: Not particularly! I am anchored in the mission to make the media industry a better place for both journalists and the readers they serve. Like I had mentioned above, I try to answer these questions both in my newsroom leadership and in my reporting/photography: Who isn’t in the room? Who hasn’t shared their voice on this beat, topic, or news peg? What person, place or thing has the most to lose? In taking these questions to heart, I’m excited about the prospect of contributing to many worthwhile innovations, projects, and reports in what I’m hoping will be a lifelong career.

What’s the NEW wackiest story you’ve ever worked on?

Kimball: I had the terrific opportunity to exercise my bilingual reporting chops to write a “Decoder” for Foreign Policy magazine. In it, I explained the local colloquial phrase “facho” to explain Chile’s history of fascism and its political and cultural implications ahead of their constitutional referendum in October. The piece ended up being hand-picked by editors at Apple News and kicked off a syndication partnership. I’m proud of the fact that every source was Chilean.

How are you taking care of yourself and staying motivated right now?

Kimball: It’s been important for me to take care of my health first and foremost: Eating well, sleeping well, being active, and hydrating properly. It’s been essential for me, also, to find the helpers and the mentors among work colleagues—the ones who have my growth in mind. 

Read Kimball’s original profile here.

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