As a student at The King’s College, Madison Iszler was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Empire State Tribune, and interned at the New York Post. After graduating with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics in December 2015, she interned full-time at USA Today and then moved to Raleigh, N.C., for a reporting fellowship at The News & Observer. This spring, Iszler was awarded a prestigious Hearst Journalism Fellowship, a two-year newspaper fellowship for early-career journalists, which she will begin late this August.
As part of the fellowship, Iszler will complete two year-long rotations at one of five Hearst newspapers. Iszler’s first rotation will be at the Albany Times Union, and her second rotation will be at either the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express News, or the Connecticut Post. She will be treated like a full-time reporter and be paired with a mentor at her respective publication.
Iszler says that being interviewed and selected for the fellowship was “easily the most intense and rewarding process” she has experienced in her career thus far. To apply, she submitted a cover letter, résumé, reference letters, and clips of her work. She was then chosen from hundreds of applicants as one of sixteen finalists. The finalists were flown to Houston for a two-day interview process at the Houston Chronicle, in which they took tests, participated in drills, and were interviewed by a panel of editors and staff at Hearst newspapers. Four to seven finalists are awarded a fellowship each year. “I was ecstatic when I found out I’d gotten a spot,” Iszler says.
“My strategy was to go the extra mile and differentiate myself as much as possible from the other candidates, who were all highly qualified and impressive,” she says. “I did a ton of research on each newspaper and who I’d be interviewed by and talked to current and previous Hearst fellows to get their thoughts on the fellowship. I made a packet with multimedia pitches for each of the five newspapers I could be placed at.”
Iszler says she decided to apply for the fellowship because she “admires the way Hearst’s newspapers combine traditional shoe-leather reporting with cutting-edge digital tools to tell stories.” She is nervous but excited about moving to two different cities over the course of her fellowship.
A year ago, I moved to Raleigh, a city I’d never been to, for my first post-college job. It was intimidating and uncomfortable, but it also made me a better writer and person because I had to get to know a new place well enough to write about it, which meant developing sources, researching and exploring the area, getting to know people, and asking a lot of questions. Over the next two years, I’ll be moving to two new cities and starting the process all over again from the ground up. While that intimidates me, it’s also a challenge that I hope will make me a better journalist.
Iszler says her King’s education prepared her for a career in journalism by teaching her to constantly ask questions, which is now an integral part of her job. “As a King’s student, I was taught to ask the ‘big questions,’” she says, “not only the ‘what,’ but the ‘why,’ which is often far more important. I also learned to think critically and to consider many different points of view.” She continues:
Being a reporter has shown me that few things in life are as black-and-white as they might initially seem. Rather, they are often gray and complicated. My professors at King’s encouraged me to ponder the reasons underlying people’s thoughts, words, and actions and to consider everything in context. The [College’s] theory-based approach to education also helped me learn how to synthesize ideas coherently.
Being a student at King’s also taught her how to integrate her faith into her work as a journalist. “As a Christian, my utmost calling is to glorify God through my career and all other endeavors,” she says.
For me, that means trying to produce excellent journalism every day: finding out and presenting the truth, pursuing objectivity, using a variety of mediums to convey information, truly listening to people, adhering to ethical standards and, to put it simply, finding and telling great stories. None of those pursuits are exclusive to being a Christian and a journalist. But the primary purpose behind them, for me, should be to glorify God by striving to be the best journalist I can be using the talents and abilities He’s given me.
Iszler says she is grateful for the mentorship of Professor Paul Glader, who advised her when she was the editor for The Empire State Tribune, served as her thesis advisor, and led her and a team of other students on a journalistic trip to Germany. “He has been a tremendous source of encouragement and support to me and is someone who truly believes in the importance and need for great journalism,” she says. “I am really excited that he has pioneered efforts at King’s to expand its journalism offerings.”