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Mississippi native adjusts to Pittsburgh while working at the Post-Gazette

By Christopher Ward, Point Park News Service:

Lacretia Wimbley, 24, a native of Jackson, Miss. recently graduated from Mississippi State University and is a copy desk editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She came to Pittsburgh in June through an internship program and just received a two-year offer for an associateship to stay at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Lacretia Wimbley. Photo credit: Russ Houston / © Mississippi State University.
Lacretia Wimbley. Photo credit: Russ Houston / © Mississippi State University

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Q: What made you go into the field of journalism?

A: When I first entered college, six years ago, I was majoring in biological sciences with a concentration in pre-medicine, but as I got in the upper-level chemistry courses, I quickly realized that this wasn’t something for me. I was also facing financial problems with paying for my tuition, so I sat out of school for a year. I worked two jobs to pay off my tuition and then when I went back to school, I realized that writing always came natural to me, so I switched my major to communications for my last three years of college. When I did that, it just clicked.

Q: Did you do any journalism work at Mississippi State?

A: When I switched my major, I immediately started working for our student newspaper, The Reflector. I became a news reporter for them that year and the next year I became a news editor, and my final year I became the editor-in-chief of the paper.

Q: How did you get hired by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette?

A: They sent out applications for an internship this summer. I got it and filled it out and submitted it, and they contacted me back and were like, ‘”Hey you’re coming to Pittsburgh this summer!”

Q: What do you think of Pittsburgh so far?

A: Pittsburgh is very interesting. Coming from the South, it’s nothing like the South. I come from a southern hospitality state and being here in the North for just a few months, I quickly realized that Pittsburgh does have some southern hospitality. Pittsburgh I would say is like in-between the South and New York. The people aren’t really rude, but they’re not as warm and welcoming as in the South.

Q: Have you adjusted to the culture of Pittsburgh?

A: I really like it here. It’s been great. Pittsburgh really has its own distinct culture. I had no clue what yinz was when I got here.

Q: What have you done with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette so far?

A: At the Post-Gazette I work at the copy desk. I’m a page designer, so I design the daily news pages for the Post-Gazette each day. I also gather wire stories for the briefs and other national news stories and edit them.

Q: How did your experience working at the paper at Mississippi State help you in your career?

A: My experience at the student newspaper really gave me everything I needed to even get here at the Post-Gazette. They say that experience is the perfect thing to truly excel rather than just sitting in a classroom. I learned everything that I know from working at the student paper and actually doing it.

Q: Where do you see the future of journalism going?

A: I have many ideas. I call myself a progressive journalist, so what that means is that I’m young. I’m in a digital age versus the older people who are in print that are very intimated by all these digital platforms. We have to evolve with the times. We can’t just be intimated and be like, “Oh no, people aren’t buying our paper, we are going out of business.” We have to figure how to get people to buy.

Q: What advice would you give to future journalists?

A: I would just tell them to make sure you’re passionate about it. Especially, in today’s day in age, and regardless, journalism is a very competitive field. Make sure that you’re willing to work hard because being a journalist isn’t easy: You’re out at all times of the day trying to get stories. When you leave college, all you’re going to be doing is working on stories. Just make sure you’re passionate about it. If you truly have a love for writing, go for it and work hard.

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