- Kirsten Ballard
Elizabeth Jespersen loves journalism and media. She was drawn to the industry because she wanted to create positive change. She started out in photojournalism, mixing her writing talent with love for photography. In college, she fell in love with the media industry as a whole. Now at GateHouse Media as the Content Initiatives Coordinator, she focuses on the news industry and works with journalism on a larger scale.
“I have the opportunity to work with purpose-driven people,” she says. “They feel called to their communities and this higher purpose of journalism.”
She is the youngest person named in News Media Alliance’s Top 30 Under 30 Awards. The 23-year-old considers her age to be an advantage in the ever changing industry.
“I grew up with a lot of digital tools that people are still figuring out how to use,” she says. “I bring a valuable perspective as far as transition to digital.”
As she looks at the future of her career, she doesn’t see a clear path. Instead, she wants to entrench herself and change with the industry. It’s hard to predict the future of journalism, but she says we’re already beginning to see the transition and new frame.
“I think we’re already seeing that it’s happening now,” she says. “The way people get their news is personally distributed. It’s based on a personal relationship and what people are recommending. Distribution channels are going to change a lot.”
She consumes her news through apps like Quartz and newsletters.
Even though Jespersen is only two years out of school, she has already seen the industry change rapidly. At her job, she helps newsrooms continue to evolve and change. GateHouse Media offers series that run the gamut from in-depth news reporting to personal branding on social media as a reporter.
“I think it’s an interesting time to be in the industry,” she says. “I have a unique opportunity to look at things from a larger perspective and follow where the industry is going.”
Many of the changes have been inspired by necessity to evolve, but have led to creative, powerful pieces of journalism. “It’s been a difficult transition, but I think it’s a catalyst behind many awe-inspiring works,” she says.
She focuses on the Inner Circle program, which is the standard of print and digital best practices. The newsrooms are trained and evaluated quarterly. She engages with editors and reporters in need of additional training.
Carlene Cox, Director of Newsroom Development, nominated Jespersen for the award. She wrote, “As long as there are people like Lizzie fighting for progress, I have complete confidence that tomorrow’s journalism will have more relevance than it ever has.”
News Media Alliance announced the winners of its first “Top 30 Under 30” Awards program at mediaXchange 2016 in April, which honors young leaders working in every aspect of the news media who are contributing to the future success of the industry. Over the next several weeks we will feature profiles on the winners, highlighting their work and ideas, and how they’re helping the industry grow and evolve.