By Theresa Schliep
As media becomes increasingly more fragmented and unpredictable, the world of journalism becomes trickier to navigate for young adults. Lauren Duca, FCRH ’13, spoke about this and her experiences as a young journalist on Monday. Duca has written and worked for a number of publications, Her Teen Vogue article, “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America,” went viral, with 1.2 million hits to date, making it the magazine’s most visited article on web. Duca first found her voice while writing for the paper, where she was editor-in-chief.
“Writing for the paper was a really good way to exercise those muscles and figure out what I like writing about and what my voice sounded like,” said Duca.
Duca eventually worked at Norwood News, which allowed her to form connections throughout the city. She later interned with Allure Magazine, a paid internship which she said allowed her to develop her skills and learn the craft.
“[Paid internships] actually teach you something because they expect something from you,” said Duca.
Interning at Allure also allowed her for more mobility and growth. Full-time staff positions for writers and journalists, she said, are not in abundance. Sometimes it’s better to work for a smaller position and develop more skills and have more opportunity for improvement.
“Look for more mobility, more freedom,” said Duca. “Sometimes it makes more sense to work somewhere smaller and work hard and stand out.”
Duca learned the art of aggregation during her time interning. She gave advice on aggregating while still contributing to the reporting of the piece.
“Pick up the phone and call someone,” said Duca. “It’s always good to add sources and continue the reporting. It sets you apart from everything that’s out there. Contribute to the conversation in a significant way, instead of being one more Google result.”
The Fordham grad also worked for the Huffington Post and later freelanced. Duca said freelancing is possible, but a writer needs a good set of contacts before pursuing this kind of work.
Eventually Duca became the weekend editor for Teen Vogue. Duca said at Teen Vogue, she looked for unique, specific angles to differentiate her stories. For instance, instead of simply covering Lady Gaga’s outfit, she angled her story about how her name on her Starbucks cup was misspelt.
At Teen Vogue, Duca wrote “Donald Trump is Gaslighting America,” which compared President Donald Trump’s contradictions and lies to the psychological method of gas lighting. The article attracted attention from CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other media companies. Duca later appeared on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” in which the Fordham grad and Carlson discussed Ivanka Trump and her role in the Trump Administration. She called Carlson a “partisan hack.”
Duca said aspiring journalists need to be aware of their contributions to media and society: a role that has changed over the years. She said the role of today’s journalists is learning more and geared more towards fact-checking.
“You want to be empowering the public with truthful information,” said Duca.
The internet and its unpredictability has presented some problems for aspiring journalists, Duca said, but it is overall a good thing for the media.
“There is so much more democracy of choice,” said Duca. “There are so many more opportunities to be creative.”
Duca discussed harassment as a woman in the media. Specifically, she called harassment via Twitter a “work-place hazard” for women. Duca said after her interview with Carlson, in which he said Duca should “stick to the thigh-high boots,” many women confronted her and said the feeling of subjection was very familiar.
Duca said women and young people need to “insist on being taken seriously” in media today.
Katie Quinlisk, FCRH ’18, said she was excited about the event because she wanted to see Duca, who graduated with an English degree, validated in their career who has similar interests as her.
“I was excited to come to this because I’m majoring in English but I have an interest in journalism, and I know that’s kind of a weird place to be where you’re going from writing papers to reporting on celebrity gossip,” said Quinslick. “I was curious to see what she was going to say about that transition but I think it’s kind of cool to see someone who has similar interests as you and be validated in their career.”
Lambda Pi Eta hosted the event, while the Communications and Media Studies Department, the English Department, the New Media & Digital Design Department, the Master of Arts in Public Media Program and the Political Science Department co-sponsored it.