The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

So What Else; how a local non-profit combats food insecurity
The renaissance of board games in a virtual world
The cost of academic excellence: Balancing AP classes and mental health
Recent local antisemitic incidents lead to increased tensions in MCPS
Redefining fluency: the value of language classes for everyone
New Hallway Policy at Whitman: Community Perspective

New Hallway Policy at Whitman: Community Perspective

June 17, 2024

Alexandra Robbins (’94) attributes successful nonfiction books to her Black & White experience

As part of our issue four in-depth section on the 50th anniversary of the Black & White, we profiled three alums who have used their journalism experience as former members of the Black & White in the real world.

In 1993, Alexandra Robbins was a news writer for the Black & White. In 1994, she was editor-in-chief. In 2001, she coauthored her first book, “Quarterlife Crisis: the Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties.” Today, Robbins is a freelance journalist and the author of three New York Times bestselling nonfiction books.

As a news writer for the Black & White, Robbins was known for writing provocative articles on controversial subjects, including investigative stories on eating disorders, underage drinking  and Whitman’s LGBT community.

“Whitman has always been good about treating the Black & White as a professional paper and letting it have the freedom to print what students want to write,” Robbins said. “I always carried that with me.”

Story continues below advertisement

Robbins said that the friends she made on the paper, as well as her experiences while writing stories, sparked her love of journalism and inspired her to persue reporting as a career.

“I have the career I have now because of the Black & White because of the fun I had writing for the Black & White and because of the training I got there,” Robbins said.

To this day, the introduction to journalism class at Whitman is the only formal journalism education she has ever had. Robbins only wrote for her college paper at Yale University for a year, and she began her professional career in college by freelance writing. She wrote her first article for the Washington Post when she was just 19 years old.

A little less then a year after she graduated from Yale, Robbins got a job as an editorial assistant at the Washington bureau of the New Yorker magazine. There, she observed and learned from reporters like Jane Mayer, Joe Klein, Jeffrey Goldberg and Sy Hersh.

“They would leave their doors open so I could hear them interviewing,” Robbins said. “That helped me refine my interviewing technique, just hearing how they went about getting information.”

Robbins worked at the New Yorker for several years, where she wrote her first two books, “Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power” and “Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis: Advice from Twentysomethings who Have Been There and Survived.”  

Since then, Robbins has published three New York Times Bestselling books including “The Overachievers,” which followed several Whitman students and profiled their lives as stressed high school students.

“I never expected to write books; I always thought I would be a starving newspaper reporter,” Robbins said. “I just realized once I started writing that I had more to say then would fit in a 2,000 word article, and that’s how I ended up in books. But I still write articles.”

Robbins’ job allows her to use her reporting skills and go into depth on issues she cares about.

“It’s never ever boring,” Robbins said. “I have to become an expert on a different topic with every article or book. I love getting to know my sources; often my sources end up becoming my friends.”

Check out profiles of  Richard Berke (’76) and Ashley Parker (’01) for more Black & White alums.

More to Discover