25 Under 35: Keila Torres Ocasio

Keila Torres Ocasio, 34

Investigations editor, Hearst Connecticut Media Group

Bridgeport, Conn.

Education: University of Bridgeport, master of arts, global media and communications; University of Connecticut, bachelor of arts, journalism with a minor in women’s studies

What advice do you have for other young professionals in the news industry?

Never stop learning. In any position you take on, try to learn everything you can about that role and every position that connects to it in some way. The better you understand all aspects of this evolving business, the better I think you can adapt to the changes. It also helps you do your own job better when you understand how what you do affects others and their jobs. As an editor, if I do my job well it helps everyone else do their jobs well too.

I’ve found the best way to do this is to ask lots of questions. I always say people become journalists not only because they are curious, but because they are nosy. We not only wonder what the answers to questions are, we feel compelled to seek out those answers. We should use that nosiness to our advantage in our careers.

In what ways can newsroom diversity improve?

In all ways. Unfortunately, the conversation about diversity is often superficial, with the focus usually on how to increase the number of (insert your diverse group name here). But I don’t want to simply fill a quota. I’m not looking for a handout. I’m looking for an opportunity, and if I have the skills for a job, I don’t want to be passed up for it or overlooked because I don’t look like anyone in that position before me.

Two things are missed when we treat diversity as if it were a numbers game: we forget people are not just one “thing” at a time and we forget that roles within a newsroom also matter. Hire a “minority” but stick her in the sleepiest beat in the newsroom and give her no opportunities to grow or have voice, and you’ve failed at diversity. Also, people forget being white or black or Hispanic is not all a person is. Yes, I am Puerto Rican. But I am also a woman, a mother, a city girl, a public school graduate and so on. All of these things make me who I am and inform how I see the world.

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