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Courtney Kueppers

Courtney Kueppers (MSJ21)

Reporter and Producer at WBEZ


Tell us about your career path. How did you get where you are today?

I started working at WBEZ during grad school and transitioned into my current role after graduation. Prior to coming to Medill, I worked in newspapers and public radio in Wisconsin and Georgia.

What are your main responsibilities in your current role?

In this hybrid role, I wear many hats on WBEZ's digital team. As WBEZ's morning digital producer, I curate the homepage, write social copy, monitor analytics and spot news for the day. As a general assignment digital-first reporter, I cover everything from the latest pandemic news to community-focused features.

How has your Medill training helped you in your career?

The best thing Medill gave me was a community of peers and professors who I continue to lean on and learn from.

How has the Northwestern Medill network helped you advance in your career?

Medill is a great connection to have with people. I am especially grateful for the community of peers I met during my time at Medill – it’s great to have a solid group of fellow journalists to talk to about stories, jobs and just the industry in general. It’s both inspiring and insightful to know journalists working across the country.

How can your industry be more inclusive and representative of society?

It’s imperative that newsrooms look like the cities that they seek to serve. I think these conversations were really accelerated in 2020, but much work remains to diversify newsrooms. When we have these conversations, I think it’s important to acknowledge the barriers of entry that exist in the industry (pay, flexibility, health care) that may prevent people from either being able to get into journalism to begin with or to stay in journalism longterm. I am encouraged by a number of newer, nonprofit newsrooms that have been bold in prioritizing the well-being of their employees and paying them competitive wages for their important work.

How have your identities influenced the way you navigate your professional career?

One thing that felt important to me as a journalist was living in new places. I am originally from the Midwest, but have lived and worked in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. Those experiences reporting on different regions of the country were hugely educational and beneficial. Part of what attracted me to Medill was the chance to move back to the Midwest and be closer to family, but Chicago was new to me — I had never lived here before. Three years later, I am still doing my homework: Exploring new neighborhoods and learning more history. As journalists, we bring our lived experiences to every story and I think it’s important to acknowlegde your blindspots/biases and to know there’s a lot you don’t know. If you can do that and keep doing your homework, I think it allows you to show up with more curiosity and to begin to build trust with your sources.

What advice do you have for someone considering Medill?

Know what you want to get out of the program. Especially for MSJ students, the year goes by really quickly! Be ready to hit the ground running and say yes to the opportunities that come up.