Alumna of the Month – September 2016

journalism alum of the month

Sasha Staar Horne (G’10)

Twitter: @SashaHorne

Instagram: @SashaHorne

Website: SashaTalksTech.com

“Creating content is no longer vertical – you have to cross pollinate, collaborate, and innovate to leave an impact. However, content is still king. If you provide quality, credible, and consistent content – even as a new news source – you’ll be able to overcome many of the hurdles you’ll face navigating your career.”

We’re thrilled to feature Sasha Horne (G’10) as our September alumna of the month! Part editor, part tech blogger, Sasha is an aspiring digital nomad who credits the Georgetown Journalism program with giving her the strong foundation she needed to thrive in the dynamic world of digital journalism. In her current role, Sasha manages a team of writers around the globe, while also creating content for her website, Sasha Talks Tech, on the Los Angeles tech scene, aka “Silicon Beach.”

In her interview, Sasha shares some of her favorite reporting clips she’s worked on, tips on making the most of life as Hoya Journalism student, and why it’s so important for journalists today to have a diverse skill set.

Current Job Title/What company do you work for?:

News Editor at MERRY JANE Media, a digital media site founded by Snoop Dogg and serial entrepreneur Ted Chung.

MERRY JANE covers every aspect of cannabis culture from legalization, health, wellness, arts and entertainment. The goal is to through education, normalize cannabis culture hoping to erase the stigma that is in place, in part, due to the War on Drugs.

I’m also the creator of  Sasha Talks Tech a digital hub highlighting apps, games, and trends from Silicon Beach, the Los Angeles tech scene.

How did you get this job?

Via social media. A friend of a friend shared the position and I applied and the rest is history as they say.

How long have you been there?

I started with MERRY JANE back in February as a staff writer and was promoted to News Editor in June. Prior to working for MERRY JANE I spent the past three years working as a freelance reporter for a variety of publications and making TV appearances and moderating panels in the tech/startup world.

What are your job responsibilities?

 I manage a team of roughly 30 writers located across the world. My day to day consists of monitoring the latest in cannabis and breaking news. I assign daily news stories, edit incoming articles and slate content for publication. There is a lot of multitasking and pivoting for instance, I could spend most of the day preparing for an original video content release and then the Philando Castille shooting happens or the DEA makes a big announcement or Kanye drops the video for “Famous” and then it’s switching gears and working with our writers to not only report the story but find a way to add to the conversation through the  MERRY JANE lens. Our audience is well informed, socially conscious and in many cases anti-mainstream media. They won’t fall for clickbait, so that’s another part of my job — seeking out, vetting, and onboarding the best writers we can find to create content that speaks to this cannabis friendly millennial counterculture.

Why did you choose to attend Georgetown’s Journalism program?

I was living in Washington working in corporate communications when I saw an ad for the Journalism program. I was about two years out of undergrad where I majored in communications, and at that point I felt it was now or never if I were going to switch gears and pursue a career as journalist. Georgetown is such a respected name in higher education, and  I was working full-time so I loved that my classes were in the evenings. I put my everything into the application process, attending mixers and introductory seminars and meeting the dean and the staff and other prospective students. I also loved that all of my professors were working journalists currently in the industry.

5D3_1949 (1)How has your degree from the Journalism program helped you in your current job?

From basic news writing  to shooting video and editing copy, I use the skills I obtained through the journalism program on a daily basis. The fast-paced environment of a newsroom is one of those things you just have to experience to understand, and thanks to the program I was able to spend quite  a bit of time learning the ropes through both my classes and internships.

What is a class that you took at Georgetown that helped the most after you graduated?

Digital Journalism! This class which required students to report across platforms from writing articles to radio and television copy, which vary greatly in tone and structure. Since I’ve graduated I’ve been able to fluidly move between journalism jobs working for online media outlets, radio and television stations thanks in part to this solid foundation.

What one piece of advice would you give current students?

Learn how to do as many things in the media realm as possible.  Having a diverse skill set and being able to jump in as needed sets you apart from your peers. Also attitude is everything! I started out in local television at an extremely small station in rural North Carolina and even on that level I learned this business can be cut throat. Your feelings will get hurt, your work will be ripped apart,  and you might even shed a few tears.  Just keep a level head, dig in, and focus on doing what you do best, creating great content! Make it a point to maintain focus on your vision for your life and career. As my favorite rapper J. Cole says, “There’s beauty in the struggle.”

If you could go back on your capstone class, what is the greatest challenge you had and how did you overcome it?

During the time of my capstone I was a little over ambitious. I was working on the project, interning at an NPR station in Atlanta, and working a part time job! I would say my greatest challenge was trying to keep all of the balls in the air so my advice would be make your life as lean as possible during this time. Also, take time to chill out on campus soak in the vibes. Trust me, it will be greatly missed once you enter the “real world.”

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing journalists now?

Reaching diverse audiences and keeping up with the fast paced technological landscape of today. Creating content is no longer vertical – you have to cross pollinate, collaborate, and innovate to leave an impact. However, content is still king. If you provide quality, credible, and consistent content – even as a new news source – you’ll be able to overcome many of the hurdles you’ll face navigating your career.

What’s the most memorable piece you’ve published and why?

The most memorable coverage moment was reporting on the ground in Ferguson, just days after the Michael Brown shooting. There were riots, protests, and it was an extremely tense and volatile situation. Two years later can really trace the start of the Black Lives Matter movement to what happened on the ground in Ferguson, and that’s history. Being part of that, knowing one day I can show my grandchildren video clips of my reporting, it’s something I’ll forever cherish.

What surprised you most about journalism/communications and working in the real world?

 How close knit the community is. Over the course of the past several years my path has crossed with other Hoya Journalism alumni, for instance at this year’s Democratic National Convention. Former employers knew former professors and former interns are now in management positions so be cautious not to burn bridges.

What do you do for fun?

When I’m not reporting and editing stories for MERRY JANE I am a digital influencer covering millennial tech culture, gadgets and apps on my blog SashaTalksTech.com and my  YouTube channel. I also speak at inner city schools to encourage youth to consider careers in STEAM. Other hobbies include reading, hiking, and exploring the West coast.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I long to be a digital nomad! Perhaps Editor-at-Large here at MERRY JANE or with another outlet traveling the world and filing cultural reports from across the globe. Another goal of mine is to return to Georgetown and teach a journalism class! I’m a firm believer in paying it forward and sharing my knowledge and experience with others.

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