Paige Lavender (SOC/MA '16) coordinates coverage of major news events and leads a global team of reporters covering fast-moving stories on everything from terror attacks to elections as the Senior Editor of Breaking News at HuffPost. A graduate of the Interactive Journalism MA* program at American University School of Communication (AU SOC), she was previously a Senior Politics Editor and Assignment Editor at HuffPost.
SOC: Why did you choose to attend American University and the School of Communication?
PL: I had several friends who had attended American and had great things to say, so when I started considering graduate school, it was one of the first places I looked into.
SOC: What attracted you to apply to the AU SOC MA in Interactive Journalism* program?
PL: The program itself seemed like it would build on my bachelor's degree and enhance the work I was doing at my job. I was able to meet some of the people involved in the program at a happy hour prior to applying and they all seemed really great and eager to help.
In addition to covering a lot of topics I was hoping to learn about, the program was super convenient for me. I was able to attend school on Saturdays and still work my full-time job during the week, so that might have been the biggest benefit.
SOC: Tell us about your job.
PL: I help lead the breaking news team at HuffPost, so I guide reporters' coverage of everything from school shootings to protests, from data breaches to Congressional hearings. I love the fast pace of my job and I love helping reporters find unique angles into stories that are dominating the news. Being in breaking news, the most challenging part might be just keeping up -- these days there's no shortage of breaking news.
SOC: Talk about your experience in the Interactive Journalism* program at AU.
PL: The program overall was really great, and I loved learning about the more technical parts of journalism, like using code to build a website or using Excel to interpret data for a story. Those things were still pretty new to me when I started the program. I also loved digging deeper into the reporting part of journalism with professors like Angie Chuang and Amy Eisman.
SOC: What are some of the most important skills that you learned during your time in the Interactive Journalism* program that you have applied to your work at HuffPost?
PL: It's really hard to pick one or two things! Every class helped me become a stronger journalist. I noticed I was more confident working with my colleagues at HuffPost after taking classes, especially colleagues who work on different parts of the website. When I'd speak with our tech team, for example, I was able to more accurately explain issues I was having because I had a stronger understanding of how HuffPost is built.
*The MA in Interactive Journalism has been renamed MA in Journalism and Digital Storytelling.