by Olivia Rockeman
When Mollie Simon was in eighth grade, her older brother encouraged her to join her high school newspaper. She eagerly sent a note to the journalism advisor asking to become a part of the staff. The advisor, who was also her brother’s tennis instructor, immediately turned down her offer. The student newspaper, it turned out, wasn’t open to freshmen. She would have to wait.
Simon reapplied as a sophomore and was accepted onto the paper, where she worked for three years. The newspaper inspired Simon to pursue journalism at the university level. Now, 22-year-old Simon has a diploma from the University of Georgia in public affairs journalism.
A self-described homebody, Simon chose to attend the University of Georgia because it was a short drive from her hometown of Atlanta and because of its established public affairs program at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Though she also applied to out-of-state universities, Simon said she appreciated attending a school in her home state because she was close to family, including her grandparents who moved to Atlanta while she was in college. With a family rooted in Georgia and a strong dislike of cold weather, Simon plans to live in Georgia long-term.
While in college, Simon held a number of writing and reporting positions at different publications. When she started at UGA, Simon joined The Red and Black, UGA’s student-run newspaper. Initially, she covered administration, but soon realized the beat wasn’t for her. She left the role, later rejoining The Red and Black as an investigative reporter and then as a staff archivist, chronicling the paper’s history dating back to 1893. Simon spent last summer interning on the business desk at NPR in Washington, D.C., sparking her interest in business news. After attending a SABEW conference with Dr. Keith Herndon last year, Simon learned about the DJNF internship program and secured a spot at the Atlanta Business Chronicle for this summer.
“Her strengths would be an insatiable curiosity, she likes to understand how things work. And she has a wide range of thinking,” Herndon said. “Business journalism can be lots of different types of stories and her curiosity helps her take on these types of stories.”
If you talk to Simon even for a short time, you will find that she has a keen interest in food. Not only did she spearhead the chapter of Spoon University and study local food systems at UGA, she also bakes frequently and even attended a chocolate cultivation class in Hawaii.
In the long term, Simon would like to pursue writing about the industrial food system. UGA has a certificate in local food systems, so she completed that program and took classes in everything from farming to global food systems. “I’m really interested in doing some investigative work on the industrial food system because I think there’s a lot to cover there,” Simon said. “I think a lot of that definitely intersects with business because a lot of big players shape our food and what we eat.”
With dreams of owning her own bakery in the future, Simon developed a special interest in artisan breads after taking a bread-making class in college. Lately, she’s been making laminated doughs for things like croissants and danishes, which are challenging to do at home — “I’ve had hits and misses,” she said. Food is especially integrated into Simon’s life because of her Jewish culture; every holiday has associated foods tied to it, like challah bread and matzo.
Simon already plans to integrate her interest in food and her experience at college publications into her 10-week internship.
“I’m definitely interested in dabbling in business restaurant coverage just to get into that food space,” Simon said. “[The Chronicle] also mentioned that it’s the 40th anniversary, so I’m interested in how I might be able to tap into my interest in archives and maybe do something about business anniversaries, things the paper covered in the past. My advisor introduced me to the person who does their book of lists […] they put out all sorts of lists about Atlanta, so maybe I’ll help with some research on that.”