Tyler Jack : Assistant Director with Grassroots Campaign
The progressive movement has seen some major advances in the past few years, from the EPA implementing better carbon emission standards to more and more states finally allowing full marriage equality to the LGBT community. Despite our best efforts the country remains divided on so many issues, and those divisions prevent some of the greatest problems from being solved. Issues like gay rights,
protecting the last wild places on earth, and ending global hunger & poverty. Over the next year and the next election cycle, Grassroots’ activists will reach millions of people all across the country with solutions, and call those people to action inspiring millions to act, giving donations, time and energy to organizations who have the best ideas on how to make the world a better place.
There will always be easier paths to take, but no path will be more rewarding than the one fighting for these issues.
By Amy Brown
The following is an interview with Tulane graduate, Ali Vitali. She is the first to participate in a series of career-related interviews with current and former Tulane Political Science students. Ali is presently a digital journalist with MSNBC and Vice President of Sweet Lemon Mag, a digital magazine and blog.
Have you always wanted to be a journalist?
I always knew I wanted to be in media. At first -- after a stint interning with Late Night w/ Jimmy Fallon -- I thought that might mean producing late night TV. But then during one particularly heated, yet informed, debate about politics with some friends (at The Boot, no less!) I realized that this was what I loved. So I started delving into journalism with my honors thesis and I guess I liked what I found! I'm constantly finding new things I love about this field and the many ways we now have to report news.
How did you begin working for MSNBC?
I started here (as an intern!) in September 2012-- right before the election. Actually the infamous Romney '47 percent' tape was during my first or second week, so it was a really exciting time. I flipped over from intern to staff with a staff offer after Hurricane Sandy and so it goes.
What have been your favorite stories to write about?
I've been lucky in that I've been able to explore a lot of different beats during my time here, but I've always been passionate about foreign relations, gun control, and equal rights. There was one story I found about a Turkish man who started a Kickstarter campaign during the #OccupyGezi movement in Istanbul, Turkey and the role that social media is playing in these round the world hashtag crusades; another few reporting on state by state cases of gun control legislation, especially in the aftermath of the horrible Sandy Hook shooting. I remember I felt strangely proud when I got to write the headline that Colorado was passing comprehensive gun laws, especially after all of the violence that state had seen, or when I reported on a story that Delaware became the 11th state to legalize gay marriage. I also love writing about Millennials and being a female 20-something, not usually on MSNBC.com, but with SweetLemonMag.com, a digital magazine and lifestyle blog of which I am the Vice President and host of their YouTube channel series, "Sweet Lemon TV."
What have been the most difficult stories for you to write about?
Shootings are particularly hard for me and unfortunately they seem to be becoming a more frequent occurrence. There's this crazy chart from The Rachel Maddow Show (attached) that hits this point home that this is happening so often; it really makes you sit back for a second and think "wow, really? How is this OK?"
What do you find to be the best part about your job?
I get to read, tweet, talk about news and issues that I'm passionate about all day. Oftentimes, talking about those issues elicits some negative response, but I decided early on that if I'm getting hate-tweets about something I wrote it probably means I'm doing something right. Plus, I watch at least 5 hours of cable news a day-- which probably sounds miserable to normal people but I kind of like it, haha.
Where do you hope your career with MSNBC will take you?
This industry is amazing in that it moves so quickly and you never know where, when, or with who your next opportunity is going to come from. I've been with msnbc digital for about a year now and in a few weeks I'm embarking on a new chapter with a move to be a Graphics PA on The Cycle. If someone were to ask me today what I want to be when I grow up, the answer would probably be different if they asked me tomorrow. It's good to be driven and ambitious (I'm pretty Type A, so I am those things) but those traits aren't mutually exclusive with being open to new things and opportunities.
What advice would you give to students wanting to pursue a career in journalism?Write as much as you can. The Notes app in iPhone, or anything equivalent to that, is your friend because life throws potential stories at you often. The Internet, and the blogosphere more specifically, has given everyone a forum to voice their opinions. And while sometimes that can be used for evil (I see you, hate-tweeters!), it can also be used for good, constructive conversation on blogs, or in YouTube videos, or on Twitter. Start those conversations! Interact with big voices or people you're interested in on social media and who knows what kinds of discussions you may spark. Some social media advice: always think before you tweet, post, comment, Facebook. I keep that reminder on a Post-It on my desk just for the extra emphasis.
Tulane University, Political Science Dept, 316 Norman Mayer Bldg, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5166 firstname.lastname@example.org