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Supporting The Indy Means Supporting Young Journalists Like Me

As a young journalist, The Indypendent’s model for grassroots, progressive journalism felt rare, and proved eye-opening.

Katya Schwenk Dec 30, 2020

Read “My First Year at The Indypendent” by Amba Guerguerian for another young writer’s perspective.

I arrived at The Indypendent in May of 2020, as protests were breaking out across the country, as the pandemic had swept us all into lockdowns. I was to be the newspaper’s remote intern. However isolated I was from the newsroom and from the city, it was clear to me, immediately, that The Indy was doing vital, urgent work, made more so in a summer of crisis and reckoning. As a young journalist, just out of school, The Indy’s model for grassroots, progressive journalism felt rare, and proved eye-opening.

The capstone of my time at The Indy was the 3,000-word cover story I wrote on public school reopenings for the newspaper’s 257th print issue.

Over the next months, I learned what it meant to do this work. I reported on the sophisticated ways the NYPD surveils protesters. I wrote about the lack of privacy oversight in the city’s classrooms. This is work that I am proud of, work that I think was important. Work that exists only because of the mentorship and guidance that I found at The Indy. The publication provides a critical space for burgeoning progressive journalists in a moment where our media landscape feels more treacherous than ever, where independent publications are strapped and opportunities are dwindling.

The capstone of my time at The Indy was the 3,000-word cover story I wrote on public school reopenings for the newspaper’s 257th print issue. I worked closely with editors to craft this longform story on the immense challenges that the city’s families, educators, and workers were facing in late summer as the city geared up to reopen its schools. I spoke with union activists, with community organizers, with teachers, administrators, and parents. The story raised important questions about the city’s preparedness to keep teachers and students safe. It was the kind of ambitious project that I was thrilled to take on, and which I’d not been given the opportunity to undertake before. The Indy puts time and resources to work like this. It gives reporters, both new and experienced, the support they need to tackle these kinds of stories. This allows them, in turn, to build critical skills and knowledge as journalists. In part thanks to my experience there, I’ve now gone on to a full-time reporting job at a nonprofit newsroom in Vermont. And I still look to The Indypendent as a model for the kind of journalism I want to do: reporting that is fearless; reporting that is rooted in movements, and the people behind them.

Read the most recent Editor’s Note: “Trump Will Soon Be Gone. But The Need For Independent Journalism Will Not.

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