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Introducing the Class of 2020: Tony Thai, with a cameo by John Moore

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. 

Name: Tony Thai

School: Arizona State University

Location: Tempe, Arizona

Photography: Portraiture, documentary, sports, surfing

Degree: Majoring in journalism, minoring in business

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

Thai: My involvement with student media at my school has taught me the importance of a strong student media at any college. The State Press, a student-run newspaper, was able to be the first to break news multiple times, even on a national stage. In my time with Cronkite News, I was able to learn the day-to-day of a functional newsroom and work on creative digital projects.

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

Thai: I was able to develop and hone my skills. For my technical skills, I was able to develop in copywriting, pitching, media campaigns, managing social media, photography, developing content, designing graphics, analyzing analytics, email marketing, communicating, pitching. On a personal level, I was able to manage my time and stress the most. I spent my time in college working multiple jobs while taking 19 credits all at once. It was hard at times, but I felt like I learned valuable life and technical skills from these experiences.

What’s been your best moment in journalism?

Thai: My best moment in journalism so far was being able to travel down to Nogales, Sonora near the border wall and cover a story as a photographer and on social media for Cronkite News. We were there covering the grand opening of a new migrant shelter right near the border. It was the most memorable thing in my career so far. It was very different from what I’ve experienced, and I was able to pick up some new things from the short trip. Not many students can say they crossed the border to Mexico for the day to cover a story and then come back home a couple of hours later.

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

Thai: The wackiest story I’ve worked on would be a story I did about bees, and I got to come out to the Honey Bee Lab on ASU’s Polytechnic campus. The story was wack, but I had to wear a bee suit for my interview. I don’t know if I will ever have to wear a bee suit ever again, but I thought it was pretty cool. 

What do you want to accomplish in your journalism career?

Thai: Three of my favorite things in the world are journalism, social media and photography. My goal is to be able to work for a newspaper and be able to show off both my social media and photography skills at the same job. I want to be proud and passionate about my work throughout my journalism career, producing award-winning content with great teams.

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

Thai: I have a strong love for photojournalists and a sucker for strong photographs of people. I would love to be able to talk to many people like John Moore, who recently won the World Press Photo of the Year. I would just love to talk and pick their brains, ask them about how they feel about their photos? Do you let your emotions help you pick photos or is it just known by your brain this a good photo?

John Moore responds: In my role at Getty Images, I’m almost always photographing for our editorial news wire service. As such, I will edit a take of images that tell the story of a coverage in a fairly broad way. So I don’t have to edit too tightly, as I would if I was editing an actual picture story for a publication. In my looser edit, seen on the Getty Images site, I will send both “process” pictures, often of people doing things, and also, hopefully, more emotional frames, which engage the viewer on a deeper level. 

The goal is always to both educate with images and to make people feel something about the story. Although single images usually have more iconic resonance, I also try to be more explanatory through multiple picture series or stories. 

All that said, here’s the shorter answer to your question: I edit with both my heart and my head, but the images that touch people most, they come from the heart. 

What do you want potential employers to know about you?

Thai: I want potential employers to know that I am extremely passionate about journalism, all the way from my time with my high school newspaper. My goal in life is to work with the things that I am passionate about. Journalism is one of the things I am passionate about, maybe the most. I am eager to prove myself as I get started with my career, ready to work hard and make strong pieces and content.

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

Thai: I spend a lot of time with photography. I love film photography, so I spend a large amount of my time developing film and making prints. I also spend a lot of time looking for interesting work that I like and want to use as inspiration. I also spend my time with my friends. We love to hang out, travel to places like Big Sur or Catalina Island and spend time in nature.

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