Simone Weichselbaum is a young reporter for the Daily News who started at the bottom, and worked her way up till she reached her dream job. As Bechol Lashon.com reports, she is a proud Brooklyn resident raised in Williamsburg with Jamaican and Orthodox Jewish roots. After going to school in a Manhattan yeshiva and public high school, Weichselbaum went to American University and received a B.A in history, and a master’s degree in criminology from the University of Pennsylvania. After working as a crime reporter for five years with the Philadelphia Daily News, she returned home to work for the Daily News where she’s covered the Brooklyn beat on religion. In 2013, she won the Be’chol Lashon media award for “her piercing, respectful, accurate and often entertaining reporting of Brooklyn, in particular its Orthodox Jews and Jews of color.”
In 2014, she was chosen to become the first journalist of color for the Marshall Project the new internet startup dedicated to reporting on issues in the criminal justice system, according to mije.com. The non-profit organization is led by Bill Keller who worked for the New York Times for 20 years as a writer and editor earning the Pulitzer Prize and covering the collapse of the Soviet Union, along with the end of Apartheid in South Africa. Weichselbaum herself has said that she made the move to the Marshall Project, so she could, ” finally utilize the degree the master’s degree she received at the University of Pennsylvania. Her articles have covered a whole range of topics in the criminal justice field such as in the wake of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri how police-community relations must be improved for the better, and how the city of Cincinatti which once dealt with a similar issue has become a symbol of harmony between cops and the public.
Weichselbaum’s work shows that anyone from any given background can move up in the journalism field through honest, dedicated and sharp reporting over what one is passionate and dedicated about. Print journalism may be dying out, but there’s a whole list of blogs or start-up companies that are hiring journalists in attempts to find new ways to report on various topics going on in the world. In addition to her story on Ferguson, she’s also published stories that dealt with topics like how women in prison must resort to making their own make-up created from sharpies and jolly ranchers, as most cosmetic products are banned from jails. Her work also shows that no one is forced to be stuck with any given beat or niche, and that there are alternative stories that can be found simply from taking a new angle at covering a familiar topic like prison conditions. Her upbringing and style of reporting lends itself to these alternative stories that focus on a beat like law, yet look at current events in pop culture, the sports world, politics or other areas that help shine a light on little-talked about subjects like where it’s legal or not to use sex toys and the effectiveness of community policing against terrorism.
She shows how people in our profession can use their own personalities to report the news, and be honest in their coverage which is an essential part of being a successful journalist.
1) What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
2) What do you look for when you are attempting to write a story?
3) Do you feel that growing up with 2 different cultures made it easier for you to find various perspectives on the stories you’ve covered over your career?
4) In your opinion, do you feel start-ups like the Marshall Project are a necessity for the growth of journalism in the future?
5) What has been your proudest moment in your journalistic career?