The journalism and history double major will begin the Hearst Corporation’s two-year program in August, assigned to the San Antonio Express-News.
During the interview process for the Hearst Journalism Fellowship, Elon University alumna Katherine Blunt ’15 sat before a panel of nine editors at prominent Hearst Corporation newspapers and media outlets. Facing the top supervisors at publications like the San Francisco Chronicle, Albany Times Union and Houston Chronicle – which hosted the April interviews – was harrowing, the journalism and history double major recalled.
“It was probably the most nerve-racking experience I’ve ever had,” said Blunt of the two-day process, which also included multiple tests and deadline writing assignments.
With a chance to promote herself for the prestigious two-year program, the Elon Communications Fellow pitched something entirely different: story ideas. She presented nine separate stories pertaining to the editors’ different markets.
Blunt’s preparation paid off, earning an invitation to the fellowship program, beginning with a yearlong assignment at the San Antonio Express-News. She starts her full-time position in late August. (In case one is interested, her story idea for the Express-News focused on cattle and the price of beef.)
“I’m really excited, even though I have never been to San Antonio,” said Blunt last week, in the midst of securing an apartment sight unseen. “While the interview process was a bit of a blur, I really enjoyed meeting the San Antonio editors.”
Blunt’s placement at the Express-News culminated a stressful application process, a competition that included aspiring journalists from across the country. In addition to developing story ideas, Blunt prepped for the editors’ panel with a mock interview with several School of Communications faculty and spoke with a former fellowship finalist.
“I tried to do whatever I could to increase my chances of making the cut,” she said.
The benefits of the two-year program will be both personal and professional for the young reporter. Blunt called having a full-time job, complete with health insurance and moving expenses, a relief. Likewise, the Maryland native is thrilled to have a place to call home – even if it’s just for 12 months. Her second fellowship assignment will be determined at a later date.
“I’m most excited about being able to put down roots for at least a year and to get to know a city and community better than I have in the past – from a reporting perspective,” she said.
Between her Elon graduation and August, Blunt has stayed active, interning at BusinessDen.com, a business news website providing coverage of the Denver, Colorado, metro area. While her focus at BusinessDen has been on residential real estate, nonprofits, startups and energy, Blunt’s assignment beat in Texas is presently unknown.
“I’m not sure what I will be covering just yet,” Blunt said. “I think they will try to get us out of our comfort zone and learn a skill or beat that we might not have developed or have much experience with.” As part of her fellowship, Blunt will be assigned a mentor at the paper.
While on the surface San Antonio and Denver might contrast one another, Blunt eyes parallels between the two cities. “San Antonio, similar to Denver, is experiencing a big influx of people and a lot of job growth,” she said. “I’m excited to watch those changes unfold firsthand.”
Blunt expects her two-year experience with Hearst to be a great foundation for her career, whether she stays with the corporation or seeks employment elsewhere.
“At the end of the fellowship, there is the possibility of a position,” she said. “And if one doesn’t come, the fellowship will be a great launching pad for my career and I will be well-positioned for the next step.”