Meet Courtney Rozen! At 18 she’s a correspondent for USA Today College and spent her spring break at the Republican and Democratic primaries in Florida. She’s taking the journalism world by storm.
Her Campus American University: When did you first become interested in journalism?
Courtney Rozen: I took a class in ninth grade because I had to fill a fine arts requirement and I hated the teacher but I liked the class so the next year you had to choose between two options so most of my friends went into newspaper so I went into yearbook. Then I did that for three years and loved it and then I came here. I don’t have a real reason, I guess, most people don’t have a really clear career option in their head, but I am a very curious person who likes to know what’s going on so I think it just became a natural fit for me.
HCAU: What was the first story you had published for The Eagle?
CR: My first major story I did was on Teach for America. That was the first story I picked up in early September and it turned out to be a six-week project. I think that’s when I broke into the Eagle because most people would drop a story after two weeks but I’m a crazy person who tries to figure it out, and it turned into a six-week investigative digging process. The problem was I picked up this story and the school doesn’t keep records on where graduates go. I spent six weeks digging for AU grads in Teach for America and then I also happened to find a movement at AU that was anti Teach for America and found them and put together a story six weeks later that was probably the hardest project I ever did, journalism wise.
HCAU: Tell us about the primaries.
CR: About four weeks before the debates I did some internet searches and found out that the primary was going to be the same week as my spring break, so I sent an email to my boss at USA Today and said this might be something I could cover. Eventually I got credentialed. I went to the Democratic debate about an hour from me at home. I sat in the press room, between ABC and CNN, and I was probably there for seven or eight hours which is a really long time. You don’t realize how much time people spend in the press room for a two-hour debate. Most of the stations that were there had been there since the day before, they’re there for 48 hours before setting up, which is insane. I didn’t meet Hilary, because Hilary doesn’t take questions from the press, she does press conferences but she only talks. I think I slept a total of eight hours in two days.
The GOP debate was much nicer, partially because it was at a private school and the other debate was at the big, public college. The other reason is they had Google sponsoring it, so Google was very techy and had screens all over the wall and you could see all the trends on Google so during the commercial breaks it would tell you what the most Googled candidate was, what the most talked about issue was. That night I was in the spin room, which is where TV is and sat behind Anderson Cooper. It was unbelievable. That night I stayed in the press room. Donald Trump walks right through the press room and talks to every reporter in the room, where as the democrats are smart enough not to do that because they know they’ll get attacked. Not attacked, but just swarmed. Donald Trump doesn’t care if he gets swarmed. The way [Trump] talks to a female reporter versus the way he talks to a male reporter is so demeaning and so aggravating. When I was sitting there, a woman would say something to him and he’d dismiss it, but then he’d go to a male reporter and he’d ask the same question and he’d answer that question. It was just infuriating because people say that he’s misogynistic but he is it’s not a question it’s the truth. Donald Trump scared me so I didn’t walk up to him. He freaked me out. And then I went home and was up until 3 AM writing again. I had the Cinderella spring break I don’t know how the stars aligned but it happened, it’s just crazy.
HCAU: What is your dream job?
CR: I don’t want to stand in a camera I know that 100%, I don’t want to be Anderson Cooper standing in front of the camera but I’ll produce his show. I’ll stand behind and make it all happen.
HCAU: What advice would you give to other people who want to be journalists?
CR: Take advantage of every opportunity. If I hadn’t looked ahead on this and asked I wouldn’t have gotten it. You have to try and find things.
HCAU: Who is your role model?
CR: Katie Couric. I think Katie is the coolest person ever. When I went through recruitment and they asked me if I could be anyone who would I be I had to bite my lip for a second before I said it because I didn’t want to sound like a total and complete nerd but I do love Katie Couric, I’m obsessed with her but I don’t want to be here.
Can’t get enough? Check out her whole review of the debates.
Photo Credits: Property of Courtney Rozen