Rachel Sadon didn’t study journalism in college. Now, as the Editor in Chief of DCist, she looks back on her undergraduate career and laughs. “I wrote a couple play reviews, but that was it. I decided to give it a go after graduation.”
She started as an intern at an Alt Weekly in San Francisco after graduating from Georgetown University. “It was less of an ‘I know I want to be a journalist,’ and more of ‘I love news, I love reading and writing. This is something I should try.’” She then interned at a tech magazine before coming back to Washington, D.C. for a position covering Latin America.
She thought she wanted to do something in international journalism. Instead, she found local news.
“I just love local news,” she says. “I think it’s wildly underrated, especially here in D.C. So much interesting stuff happens on the local level, stuff that really affects people’s day-to-day lives and it’s under-covered.”
She landed a job at the Washington Post Express, the free metro daily, and found that she loved local news. From there, she moved to DCist, where she has been more or less ever since.
When DCist shut down without warning, she spent five weeks traveling before landing at WAMU. When she returned, she started work as a producer.
“I like WAMU a lot; I think public media wasn’t something I had ever considered career-wise,” she says. She didn’t have radio experience before, but has learned on the job. She enjoys her coworkers and credits them for being generous with their time and really smart.
This year, WAMU bought DCist, and Rachel took the helm. The site relaunched in June. “It’s the same job, but it feels totally different in some ways; there’s a lot more possibility here. A membership program, a new website, working with the WAMU newsroom with these projects. There’s a lot of energy and support that we didn’t have before,” she says.
The new DCist team is four strong. “It’s an ‘all everything, all the time’ job,” Rachel says. “We’re all doing everything from reporting and writing to copyediting and social media.”
She describes preparing for the relaunch as a marathon sprint. “This whole affair has been a little like attending our own funeral and being resurrected. When we were gone, we heard from a ton of people who were really upset and said they missed us. We have conclusive proof that the work mattered. It validated our feelings that nobody was replicating what we were doing.”
Looking ahead, Rachel is focused on continuing to grow DCist, regaining the former audience and publishing stories that really matter.
“There is nothing more gratifying than seeing a well-reported story go out into the world and on occasion, it makes a difference,” she says.
Kirsten is the Social Media and Blog Editor at the News Media Alliance.