by Payne Lubbers
Like many nascent reporters, Kira Barrett never thought she would make a career out of journalism. While growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, Barrett said she first noticed her love for writing through crafting short stories for her own entertainment, and later joined her high school’s paper as an editor to continue her hobby.
Now, Barrett is a junior at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park, and credits her college experience with her professional success in the field.
“In college, I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, so I just checked the journalism box,” Barrett said. “But I really fell in love with it in college, because of my professors, and I loved my classes. I feel like I’ve always loved writing.”
Her academic and extracurricular successes in journalism landed her a spot at the prestigious Dow Jones News Fund and a summer internship at Industry Drive, a Washington, D.C.-based business journalism outlet. Barrett says the prestige and resources provided by the Dow Jones News Fund will help her get her feet on the ground in the field.
“I want to form relationships so that if I cover business journalism in New York after college, I’ll have that community of journalists and information that I’ll need,” she said.
While Barrett is pursuing a major in Multiplatform Journalism, her interests are diverse and go well beyond business journalism. In addition to her work at Merrill, she is pursuing a minor in Nonprofit Leadership, and in the fall worked as a reporting intern at Street Sense Media, a non-profit outlet that reports on homelessness in the Washington, D.C. area.
Health, science and social justice are important issues to cover for Barrett, and she hopes her reporting on these subjects will also help address some problems she sees in the current state of the news media.
“[I want to focus on] picking stories to cover that are not being constantly shoved in people’s faces, that every publication is covering and that every news alert is on,” Barrett said. “I think with the industry changing, publications have to figure out more, different ways to grab people’s attention that other publications aren’t already doing.”
But journalism isn’t the only way Barrett could see herself addressing problems of social justice. Whether she continues her career in journalism, applies to law school, or continues her work with nonprofits, Barrett wants to work at the intersection of multiple fields for the benefit of the community at-large.
To broaden her international perspectives, this past semester Barrett traveled to Italy to study at the American University of Rome. Because of her previous academic work back in College Park, she enjoyed a relaxing semester, taking courses in English and professional writing, and also spent time traveling around the rest of Western Europe.
A frequent and fervent writer, Barrett kept a blog of her travels throughout the past semester, and her published pieces on a wide array of subjects are available online. In the spirit of her childhood short story writing, Barrett always finds a way to stay busy and productive in front of a keyboard.