Bethany Hubbard is a 29-year-old science journalist who is an inspiration to students or anyone who wants to pursue his or her dreams. She did not become a science journalist after high school. First she had other dreams to accomplish, such as theater and poetry. Then she realized she wanted to become a science journalist. She now works as a Publications editor at a Northwestern University office for science outreach and public engagement, Home of HELIX Magazine.
When did you want to become a journalist?
After I wanted to go to graduate school. I did theater and English writing as an undergrad. I always liked writing and telling stories. So I spent four years after school doing improv and sketch comedy at Second City and IO (Improv Olympics) and decided I wanted to do more writing and knew Medill had a great one-year master program.
Were there any other professions you were thinking of pursuing, or was journalism your childhood dream?
I always wanted to be an actor. Well, you know as a kid everybody has phases, but I went into college to pursue theater full-time. I always had a feeling that I wanted to go back to get my masters. I think after four years of doing theater and waiting tables I decided that I still wanted to do theater. I wanted to support myself in another way and journalism came naturally. It is storytelling and it translates very easily.
How long have you been a journalist?
I finished my masters in March 2012.
What is the most interesting story you have written?
Wow! My current position is that you’re constantly learning new science. When I went to graduate school for three months in London and did an internship at the Ecologist. It’s an environmental magazine. It was neat to see the way they approached science and the environment. I wrote a couple investigative pieces on winter vines, stable energy, and the high-speed rail. I interviewed a bunch of people on what they thought. It was interesting because of the different perspectives.
Did you ever have to wake up at three in the morning to chase after a story?
I don’t think I had that experience for magazine.
What happens if you write a story that another newspaper wrote at the same time?
That obviously speaks to you, is something news worthy? It’s something we think about even with the graduate students when I’m working with when or witting articles about their research. I always ask is there a new angle?
How long are your stories?
Generally the features are 1000-1500 words long. The Q-AND-A’s is 2000 words and the Grad students can pick their question. The news items we republish and the work from the Medill School of Journalism is close to 1000 words.
How long do you work on a story?
Generally it takes one week and my blog posts I do that in a day.
How many stories have you written?
I don’t know how if I can put a total number on it. I mean in graduate school I wrote 20 a quarter. Now I would say, if you count blog posts, 50-60 stories.
What do you like most about your job?
I think it’s just the learning, you learn so much. Every time I write something, I learn something. My colleagues are all scientists.
Could you walk me through a typical day for you?
Everyday is very different because I have many projects going on at once. Usually I’m working on editing one or two stories. I also work on the social media and have lots of meetings. It is fun and interesting everyday.
How has the industry changed since you started?
Its always changing, unfortunately print publications are folding. It’s scary because it’s a different landscape. It’s not like journalism is going away, it’s changing.
With so much change going on, do you think journalism is still a good career for a young person to pursue?
It is if you are flexible and you are willing to think outside the box.
Journalism jobs can be very stressful. What do you do to relax?
I ride my bike a lot in the summer; in the morning it wakes me up. I listen to music, play my guitar and I still do improv shows on stage 773 on Saturday mornings.
How do you compare editing the work of others to writing your own stories?
Editing makes you a much better writer.
Is dramatic acting still a part of your life?
I assisted a show at Second City and perform twice a month.
How do you explain the attraction to acting, improv and science journalism?
Everything you do goes back to storytelling.
What is your improv troop name?
StoryTown Improv and you can go to the website http://storytownimprov.com
Is improv and acting a hobby that may be you would like to pursue as a side job?
If those opportunities come along, yes!