By Jeremy Hill
Journalism didn’t always come naturally to Chelsea Shannon.
The 23-year-old Californian struggled with writing early in her high school career and was denied an opportunity to work on her school’s yearbook. That drove her to dedicate herself to math and biology, something she continued in college at the University of Portland.
But things changed. Failure drove Shannon away from math and biology, she said. In high school, her hard work covered her shortcomings in those subjects, but they showed themselves in college. So she made the switch to journalism.
“I realized the way I study is I talk about subjects,” Shannon said. “In a way, I kind of translated the fact that I like talking about hard topics to how I would do in journalism.”
Shannon finished her undergraduate degree in journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2017. She completed the program in a year and a half. She has written for Cronkite News, AZCentral and Tech.Co, a startup and tech news outlet.
“She has the kind of curiosity that a journalist needs,” said Maureen West, a faculty associate at ASU who had Shannon in her intermediate reporting class last fall. “I think that’s one of her best traits, as well as persistence.”
Though she’s covered a variety of topics ranging from politics to women’s health, West said Shannon has shown a strong interest in business and is adept at finding business angles in everyday stories.
“Another thing I can say about Chelsea that I can’t say about all journalists is she has great heart,” West said. “She brings it to both her interviews and the stories she chooses.”
Those qualities might be traceable, at least in part, to the 11 years Shannon spent participating in Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouts taught Shannon a range of things, from how to make and follow a budget to how to make decisions in an egalitarian manner, she said.
“They don’t just teach, like, cooking and stuff,” Shannon said. “The most memorable badge I earned was the ‘fix-it’ badge, where we learned how to fix the toilet and the car and the washing and drying machines and other household items. I know more than most guys I meet because of girl scouts.”
During her time with the Girl Scouts, Shannon organized an event for 500 children, helped a local animal shelter and created an anti-bullying blog, which she eventually presented to her Catholic Diocese.
During a recruiting visit at ASU, Beth Hunt, director of editorial recruiting and development for American City Business Journals, urged Shannon to apply for the Dow Jones News Fund’s business reporting program.
Before they met, Shannon was looking into copy editing roles and had applied for the editing portion of the DJNF program. Now Shannon is slated to spend her summer working at the Sacramento Business Journal.
Though she was born in Beverly Hills, Calif., and spent the first five years of her life in Long Beach, Shannon considers Sacramento her home and is eager to learn more about the city. As for the reporting, Shannon said she doesn’t have a particular area of coverage in mind, but instead wants to feel her way into a beat.
Shannon is looking forward to reconnecting with Hunt during the residency, she said. She’s also excited to visit the New York Stock Exchange.