By Brianny Aybar, UConn Journalism
September 28, 2018
Get to know Vanessa de la Torre, a reporter for Hartford’s public radio station WNPR. She is part of a multi-state radio collaborative called “Sharing America”. This radio collaborative has reporters based in Portland, Oregon, St. Louis, Missouri and Kansas City, Missouri who uncover local stories focused on race, culture and identity.
Vanessa has been with WNPR since the end of December 2017. She worked as a reporter at The Hartford Courant for more than a decade before transitioning into radio reporting. She explains that writing for radio is much different than writing for a newspaper.
“You can’t have too many commas. That’s one thing you learn right away,” she said.
When it came to newspaper writing, Vanessa says she loves using elegant language, but when it comes to radio it is important to strip all of that away and use a more conversational tone.
“You’re letting other voices tell the story. You’re letting people speak for themselves,” Vanessa said.
Vanessa said that one of the biggest transitions from print to radio was actually finding confidence in her voice. Not often hearing anyone that sounds like her on the radio, she assumed she needed to change her voice to have what we think of as a “broadcast voice”. Vanessa brings up the concern that people in public radio need to seek out more diverse talent with unique voices. Creating the collaborative “Sharing America” was an effort in that direction and WNPR in Hartford recruited Vanessa to be a part of it.
When it comes to covering news, local news is Vanessa’s favorite thing to cover. “This our society, this is our lives, these are our neighbors, these are people we have to hold accountable. It is important to support and maintain local news,” Vanessa said.
She argues that local news is the bedrock of democracy. Local journalists document the whole range of human emotion and experiences.
Being Mexican-American, the experiences and point of view she is able to bring is something that she believes is valuable in the newsroom. With more people of color as reporters as well as editors, there are more perspectives on how a news story might play out.
Vanessa’s biggest advice for young journalists is to find a mentor who can help steer them in the right direction. She also emphasizes practice. Even if a media organization does not publish your work, get it out there yourself. Vanessa said her main focus right now is covering all the moments and stories she possibly can. She’s not sure she will ever be satisfied.
TOP PHOTO: Journalist Vanessa de la Torre spoke with members of the UConn Journalism Society about her work at WNPR in December 2018. (Photo credit Brianny Aybar)