Rising Star: Katie-Leigh Corder, F + W Media

In high school, Katie-Leigh Corder wanted to be a tornado chaser.

Then she discovered all the math and physics that went into it and quickly changed her mind.

It wasn’t the science of the chase that drew her in, but being on the scene and giving a live view to the audience. And hence, she discovered journalism.

She joined the high school newspaper and fell in love with media and everything it had to offer. She interned at South Port, North Carolina’s paper, The State Port Pilot, and was awarded the NC Press Scholarship before going to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study journalism, hoping to cover breaking news or politics.

“It was during the whole digital revolution in the late 2000s. You couldn’t just be in one type of medium anymore,” she explains.

She experimented with multimedia, videography and web design. “I still wrote, too,” she says. “The written word is still gold in my mind.”

After college, she went to work at Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society. She worked to engage an audience with no scientific background, summarizing in non-technical words.

“I really, really enjoyed working in the scientific community,” she says. “I love translating jargon to what a normal person can digest and answering that ‘so what?’ question that so many people ask.”

She eventually wants to get her Masters degree in a science or tech journalism field.

For right now, the Rising Star is at F + W Media as an SEO and Audience Development Specialist. Her days are spent conducting site audits and improving the user experience, finding the best keywords and optimizing the backend of the website. She’s also the one who make sure everything displays well on a mobile or small screen.

She enjoys how logical her job is, taking technical steps to get each page to work. It’s a lot of trial and error.

“You can’t be scared of failure in any form of journalism. You have to jump into new realms and try new things” she says.

When I talked to Katie-Leigh, she had just had the opportunity to write a video script and production schedule. “It’s was a good refresher from being stuck in coding all day,” she says. “I can have some creativity. It makes for an interesting experience.”

Her advice to budding journalists is to “learn the criticism of the red pen. It will make the story or product better.” She also stresses the importance of being adaptable to change. “Technology is not stagnant; journalism will not be either.”

She urges everyone to be the best, ethical journalist possible. “There have been great times and horrible times for journalism throughout history… Don’t let fake news get you down.”


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