Thompson transformed by writing career

Former graduate now covers national politics


Catherine Thompson, Featured Writer

I graduated from WSHS in 2009 and for the past two years I’ve been covering national politics at a digital news site called Talking Points Memo. I never formally studied politics as I majored in journalism and Spanish literature. I always followed political news, though, partly to stay informed and partly for the spectacle of it all (they don’t call it political theater for nothing). I learned quickly on the job because that interest was already there. If you remember one thing from my story, especially aspiring young journalists, remember this: passion for your subject really does carry you over the hurdle of inexperience.

Working my first real journalism job proved to be a much more personally transformative experience than I thought it would be when I was interning and studying. Honing my reporting skills really has been about getting over a bunch of little fears that I didn’t even notice had piled up, silently, over the course of my life as a young adult: fear of failure, fear of rejection and even, yes, fear of missing out (FOMO). Sometimes reporters with more resources or name recognition scoop me. Sometimes my pitches get turned down. There’s never enough hours in the day to read the important and interesting work my colleagues are doing and compliment them on it. But I chip away at those little fears every time a source comes to me with an exclusive, or my stories rack up a million page views or I support a media friend who’s giving a talk.

Reporting in the real world forced me out of my comfort zone and gave me a level of confidence I didn’t have before. I’m immensely grateful for that. It’s pretty nifty to get paid to talk to people and write all day, too.