Covering Coronavirus: Tips, best practices and programs

Introducing the Class of 2020: Jenna Ortiz, with advice from sportswriter Helene Elliott

The National Press Club Journalism Institute is spotlighting the next generation of journalists, students graduating from college or Master’s programs this spring into a challenging job market, in hopes they’ll meet future bosses and colleagues here who will reach out and support them in building journalism’s future together. 

Jenna Ortiz during a day in Tempe.

Name: Jenna Ortiz

School: Arizona State University

Location: Phoenix, Arizona

Internships: Arizona Republic, Phoenix Magazine

Honors: Dean’s List, Summa Cum Laude

What have you learned from your involvement with student media on your campus?

Ortiz: My photography has improved so much from covering the NCAA hockey team. Covering the team with a student publication allowed me to showcase my photography skills, along with my writing. The amount of practice I received from this season alone has prepared me for covering more teams.

In my first year, I paid my dues covering the club hockey team as a writer and backup radio analyst. All those nights spent in the cold rink proved to me that I truly love what I’m doing and will work anywhere.

What have you learned from your internship experience(s)?

Ortiz: I learned how important it is to write clean copy. It may sound obvious, but working on digital production helped me understand the workflow for stories and what gets them published quicker. I also was put into clubhouses and locker rooms for professional sports teams and learned what their media availabilities look like. I had so much fun covering professional sports and my work got even more exposure from my internships.

What’s been your best moment in journalism?

Ortiz: I traveled to New Zealand last July to work on my thesis project about the country’s ice hockey culture. I never thought I would ever go to New Zealand, but I am so happy that I got to visit there and meet those involved with ice hockey. The finished product is something I’ll always be proud of because I put a lot of work into the stories and photos. I did my best to capture what ice hockey really looks like in this island country

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

Ortiz: Besides my entire project on New Zealand, I wrote about a 5’3″ NCAA hockey player with NHL dreams. It was really fun watching him play because his size is the first thing you notice, but he wasn’t behind everyone talent-wise. People definitely do double-takes with him, but he’s more than his height. 

What do you want to accomplish in your journalism career?

Ortiz: If my work inspires at least one person in their journalism career, I’ll know that I’ve made it. I’ve read a lot of great stories and used some of them as guides for my stories. Those writers are so talented and strike lightning with their words and impact how I want to take on a story. If I can impact someone in any way, that would be amazing. 

I also really love hockey and if I can get more people into that through my work, I’ll be very happy.

If you could meet any journalist and ask for her/his advice, who would it be and why?

Ortiz: Helene Elliott is my hero. Growing up in Los Angeles, I’ve been fortunate to have read her work over the years. She’s one of the best to ever write about hockey and if I had a tenth of her talent, I would be amazing. I remember my dad telling me that she was the first female journalist in the Hockey Hall of Fame and once I heard that, I knew she was the one. She also inspired me to aim high for goals that I didn’t think were possible for journalists. I was fortunate to have met her a few years ago when I attended a journalism conference as a high school junior. She was so polite and helpful. We’ll see if we ever meet again.

Helene Elliott responds: My advice to her is to never stop being curious and never forget that everyone has a story to tell. The platform and technology that you use to tell a story may change, but there always will be value in a compelling story that is well told. 

My other bit of advice is to never become complacent. Always think beyond what happened to consider why it happened, and what else might happen as a result. Always listen when you’re interviewing someone, instead of sticking to a list of questions. Remain open to possibilities, in journalism and in life. 

What do you want potential employers to know about you?

Ortiz: My first solo trip was to New Zealand for my thesis and it was also my first time leaving North America. I am not afraid to take risks in the name of storytelling. I would be honored to continue my passion for sports and finding those offbeat angles.

When you aren’t practicing journalism, how do you spend your time?

Ortiz: I love hiking and being outdoors. I think exercise is a very important part of my daily routine because it’s so good for you. I also spend my time imagining my next trip because I love going to new places.

If you’re a senior studying journalism, or know one, we’re accepting information here for students to feature in the future. If you’re a supporter, you can contribute here to scholarships for journalism students.