Sohyeon Hwang

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Sohyeon Hwang


How did you get placed at the Center for Investigative Reporting? Did you have a particular interest in this type of journalism?

My placement at Reveal was more or less serendipitous (but very much welcome!). A little while after I submitted my application, I got an email from EBF that I was being considered by Reveal for a position. I listened to the Reveal podcast time to time, so I was pretty excited that I might get to work with Reveal/CIR. I hadn’t really considered working in investigative reporting before because my undergraduate work experiences had mostly been in research, but ultimately, I think this background not only made me naturally lean towardsthe work Reveal does but also helped me in my work there.

Please describe your role at CIR. Did the job take you out of your comfort zone? If so, how?

I worked on the Audience team, working on a mix of communications, research and outreach. For the most part, I helped produce social content and newsletters, but I also had longer-term research projects—for example, compiling a database for one of our reporting networks—and worked on outreach to new audiences that were related to the stories we were rolling out.

Being on the Audience team also exposed me to a lot of different moving parts of the newsroom, so I inevitably stepped out of my comfort zone. Sometimes, it was catching up with all the procedural things that I wasn’t initially acquainted with. Other times, it was more the fact that I was learning a lot from the investigative stories themselves, so I had to delve into new issues that I was unfamiliar with to make sure my own work accurately reflected the stories. But it was also these learning aspects that made me really enjoy being on the Audience team as well.

What lessons did you learn there?

One of the things that many people at CIR emphasized was to not be afraid to ask to be more involved. My supervisors checked in with me a lot and encouraged me to ask if I could get involved with more work, so I was able to work on a lot of things over the summer. But beyond work, the folks at CIR encouraged me to reach out for coffee or lunch and I learned a lot just by chatting with people.

My experience at Reveal was valuable because it gave me first-hand experience in seeing how media works to relay information. Because social media in particular is so important in news consumption today, being on the Audience team forced me to think about how we communicate our stories online. This really clearly demonstrated to me firsthand that the technology platforms we use are really just new kinds of infrastructures shaping our society. It reinforced my interest in studying the social impact of technologies.

Can you tell us about a memorable experience there, whether it was a story you worked on or something else?

We did a Facebook Live show called “LunchBreaking,” a session in which reporters tackle questions and tips from the audience. This session specifically asked what questions people had about immigration, reflecting some of the breaking news stories Reveal was publishing at the time. Reporters used their lunch break to investigate the selected questions submitted by the audience and then presented their findings in a live broadcast the next day. It was a really cool way to engage with readers, and I enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in something that is so responsive to the audience. I assisted some of the investigating and worked on making sure the live broadcast went smoothly.

How did the Emma Bowen Foundation prepare you for a career in media?

My career interest in media is less traditionally within industry, because I’m interested in research and the impact of technology and media. But the work experience that I gained as an Emma Bowen fellow at Reveal was invaluable because it gave me perspectives beyond that of a consumer’s. The breadth of work I got to be involved with on the Audience team at Reveal was very enrichening.

What advice do you have for students working toward a career in journalism or media?

Try a lot of different things within journalism and media. I found my experience particularly valuable because I was exposed to a lot of different work and roles during my summer at Reveal/CIR. Especially because technology is constantly changing the presentation and role of journalism/media, there are interesting and innovative strategies and opportunities in many different directions within this industry. And in the end, being familiar with how the different parts evolve and come together is always important.

Anything else you’d like to add?

It’s encouraging to see new spaces for people of color in this industry—especially in the non-profit sector—and I hope that more opportunities continue to grow.