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

Baseball falls to BCC 7–3 in the ultimate Battle of Bethesda
Boys volleyball falls to Walter Johnson 3–1
MCPS cancels bus tracking pilot app
Whitman hosts first International Night since COVID-19 pandemic
Boys lacrosse annihilates Blake 18–1
Girls lacrosse demolishes Blake 17–2

Girls lacrosse demolishes Blake 17–2

April 21, 2024

Ashley Parker (’01) covers Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign as a New York Times reporter

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.

On Friday night, while Ashley Parker’s (‘01) friends hit the town in New York City, she spends the night in a cheap hotel with bad food.

But Parker isn’t complaining — in fact, she begged for her job, which entails traveling across the country covering Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign for the New York Times.

Parker’s job requires her to attend all of Romney’s speeches and events, know everyone on his campaign and get the inside scoop on his political strategy.

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Whenever Romney has an event or speech, Parker writes a blog post on it for the Times. Additionally, Parker writes two to four stories for the print edition every week.

Parker began her journalism career on the Black & White as a feature writer her junior year and then as an in-depth editor her senior year. Her first experience writing for a paper was the mock newspaper all journalism students produce at the end of their sophomore year.

“Our journalism teacher Gary Kang was this young, kind of fun but also really tense in a way that could border on bullying teacher,” Parker said. “These really great Black & White classes came out of it because he just made it really competitive and made you work really hard.”

Kang told his classes he’d give out five grades to the five groups for the mock newspapers — one A, one B, one C, one D and one E. This grading system created intense competition among the groups, many of which pulled all-nighters the week leading up to their deadline.

Parker said that despite the stress of such a massive amount of work for a sophomore assignment, this experience created friendships on the paper that extended through all of high school and beyond.

“I went into college knowing that journalism was something that really interested me and that I wanted to pursue, and that was because Black & White made it this really fun interesting experience,” she said.

Parker continued to write for her college paper at the University of Pennsylvania. She said studying journalism can be a difficult choice for many college students who are tempted by more stationary and high-paying jobs. Reporting can be an extremely hard field to break into and requires incredible flexibility and willingness to travel.

“Its hard to say to your parents ‘I know you just paid for this four year education at considerable cost, but now I’d like to move to Arkansas to take a job for $20,000 a year,’” she said.

Still, Parker knew that reporting was something she loved and remained adamant about pursuing journalism.

“You have to be really good at handling rejection,” She said. “I was actually very lucky; I had positive experiences getting jobs and internships and finding people who were willing to mentor me.”

Parker got her first job as a research assistant for Maureen Dowd at the New York Times right out of college. Her daily tasks ranged from getting coffee to fact checking Dowd’s column to doing interviews.

While working for Dowd, Parker got many opportunities that most people don’t get in their lifetime, including the opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia, which restricts female reporters.

“I went to Saudi Arabia with her which you can’t even get into,” Parker said. “I went to Paris with her, I went to London, I traveled around the country. I’m someone who likes to travel, and I think its exciting, so I think its an absolute perk of being in journalism; all the things you get to see and do that you’d never get to do otherwise.”

Check out profiles of Richard Berke (’76) and Alexandra Robbins (’94) for more Black & White alums.

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