Alexandra Yetter Pivots to Find Her Beat

Alexandra YetterAlexandra Yetter
Alexandra Yetter on finding the story, landing internships, and editorial success

Alexandra Yetter, aged 10, was annoyed. Why wouldn’t her Dad give it a rest? He wouldn’t stop with the journalism thing. Didn’t he understand how much she loved all things fashion? Didn’t he get it?

He may have gotten it better than Alexandra Yetter, now a junior majoring in journalism and Editor-in-Chief at the Columbia Chronicle, could have ever known. When Yetter first chose Columbia, she was certain that she wanted to go into the business of fashion. And once there, it all started to change. Yetter remembers, “My first semester as a freshman I took a fashion business course and then I took an intro to journalism course. And while I was doing the two courses, I would be sitting in my fashion business class just thinking about journalism and writing articles and doing interviews. So, I kind of realized that journalism was the real path that I wanted to [pursue].”

For Yetter, taking full loads of classes and considering a career change was still more sedentary than she liked. She wanted to be out there in the world making changes and writing things people were going to read. By her second semester of Freshman year, Yetter was already making waves as an author’s assistant to Rob Elder. Elder was so impressed with Yetter’s style and work ethic he also gave her an editorial internship for Blockchain news for the summer between her Freshman and Sophomore year.

There was a problem.

Yetter didn’t know anything about Blockchain technology or crypto currency. But this was it—a chance to be published—and Yetter wasn’t about to pass that by. She recalls, “The entire first week before I started my internship, I read every book there was about cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology, podcasts, watched videos, everything. And by the end of the summer, I was practically an expert in it…I knew every creator of every Bitcoin there was.”

By the end of the internship, Yetter didn’t only know everything there was to know about crypto currency-she knew, too, that she wanted to start working for The Chronicle. Yetter also had another internship lined up as an editorial assistant for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Press Office. It was fast paced, it was awesome. She still very much enjoyed art, fashion, and culture, though, and thought that working in arts and culture for The Chronicle would allow her to merge her two loves.

She laughs, now, thinking of her best-laid plans: “I hate arts and culture now. I just cannot write it!” Where Yetter found her footing was with Metro, after an impromptu article that only made its way to The Chronicle because Yetter had time to attend a press conference at City Hall of Chicago with then Attorney General Jeff Sessions. She remembers, after the conference, “[I] reported on the story and ran back to a newsroom and had such a reporter’s high from writing this story and cranking it out and having it be on something really important, something that mattered.”

This story had a lasting impact on Yetter, who proudly notes, “From there I became an absolute news junkie. And so I've covered mayoral races, I'm covering the Presidential race right now. Yeah. I became just super into Metro. I kind of found my beats. Now I really want to be a political correspondent.”

Yetter, who has risen through the ranks of The Chronicle from staff reporter, to news editor, to co-editor-in-chief to editor-in-chief, has a nose for news that makes a difference. Recently, she reported on casting controversies in Columbia’s own Theatre Department, her reportage contributing to Chair Carin Silkaitis’ plans for diversifying the Theatre program at Columbia. And she’s been recognized as well: her work is included in Columbia College Chicago’s nineteen 2020 Illinois College Press Association Awards.

When she isn’t writing investigative stories, Yetter is pursuing her goal of becoming a political correspondent. She’s already had plenty of experience and is looking forward to an internship with Bloomberg next summer. As she says, “I've interviewed like Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot when they were running for mayor. I've covered Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden, just from them being in Chicago. I really wanted to expand on that so I could get as much experience as I can before I graduate and I'm going into this field for the rest of my life.” She is currently pursuing that goal by taking Chair and Professor Suzanne McBride’s Covering Politics Class, where she will be able to cover the Wisconsin Primary, Illinois Primary, and, as she says, “be out in the field, literally elbow to elbow with New York Times reporters and Bloomberg videographers.”

What advice does Yetter have for other budding journalists? “Consume the news… The other thing is to really take advantage of your time in school. That's being on your student newspaper or if you don't have time for that, pitching articles to your newspaper and going out on the weekends and reporting on things, really building up your portfolio that way. And then I always want to stress to our reporters, but also all journalists, that there's very important reputation that journalists have to uphold and that's unbiased reporting for change.” With reporters like Alexandra at the helm, the prospects for the future, for change, and for quality journalism characterized by integrity are bright. Very, very bright.

MEDIA INQUIRIES

Rhiannon Koehler
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rkoehler@colum.edu
312-369-7627