Truth and Accountability: Journalist and Alumna Francesca Mirabile

Francesca Mirabile, class of 2015, is a JCU alumna from Locorotondo, Puglia. During her time at JCU, Francesca was Vice President and Managing Editor of The Matthew and webmaster for the Women’s Leadership Initiative. After earning her B.A., Francesca moved on to graduate from the prestigious Columbia University School of Journalism. She is currently working for the news organization The Trace, where she is a senior fellow.

Francesca Mirabile

JCU Alumna Francesca Mirabile

How’s life after graduation? How’s living in New York?
Life after graduation has its ups and downs. There are times when I’m glad I’m not in school anymore and not forced to read hundreds of pages a day or write 15-page papers, but there are also times when I miss the college environment and the opportunity to fail without real consequences.

New York is chaotically beautiful. There’s no other city that compares. I’ve been really fortunate to have had the chance to experience it for two whole years (and also during my semester abroad at JCU), even though it can be extremely frustrating to be stuck on a packed downtown train at 8:00 am every morning for 30 minutes!

Can you describe your job experiences since graduation (before the current one)?
I went to grad school straight out of JCU, so I didn’t have any job experiences before my current job. Journalism school was extremely intense, and they almost prohibited us from getting any kind of employment (even part-time), so I had to wait until graduating last May to get a job in the real world.

What are you doing now? What is The Trace?
The Trace is a nonprofit news publication covering gun violence and gun issues in America. It was founded in 2015, and it’s growing every day. I’ve been here since last summer, and I am now a senior fellow. My main focus is design and data. I put together infographics and data visualizations, write stories, and also help out with web design and other assignments.

Why did you decide to start working there?
Right out of J-School, I was applying everywhere I could. I had met the Trace engagement editor at the Career Fair at Columbia, and I later applied for their design fellowship. At the beginning of June, I got an offer from them. A couple of days later, I interviewed for another — more well-known — publication and got the job on the spot. It was June 9. Three days later, the deadliest mass shooting in American history (so far) happened in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. That’s when I knew I had to work for The Trace.

What is the role of journalism today? Do you find it dangerous that news media are moving more and more towards infotainment (or how do you feel about that)?  Do you believe there’s need for more nonprofit media organizations?
I might be living in the “media bubble,” but I don’t think we’re moving towards infotainment at all. I strongly believe that now more than ever the public is asking for truth and accountability. There’s proof of this in the fact that the day after the Election people started donating crazy amounts of money to a number of nonprofit publications; so, evidently, the need for hard facts, accuracy, and fairness is felt very strongly in a great part of the United States. That said, people do like to be entertained, and many organizations have made it their job to satisfy this need. I think there’s nothing wrong with this as long as the rest of the news media continues doing what they do best: Report on facts and get them out into the world.

Is there any class at JCU that helped you in your career? What are your career plans?
I wouldn’t be where I am without JCU. I can confidently say that every single class I took at John Cabot helped me in some way or another to get to this point. If I had to list some classes in particular, I would mention all the journalism and creative writing classes, which showed me the importance of truth and storytelling, while also stimulating my creative juices and forcing me to write every day. My first class at JCU — on my first Monday at 9 a.m. — was Graphic Design: That’s where I learned how to use softwares like InDesign and Illustrator, which are now constantly open on my laptop. Some of the journalism I’ve done so far has also been tangential with psychology, and the psychology of crime in particular, and Psychology and Law is the class that has most influenced me and made me passionate about this topic.

As for career plans, I’m just going with the flow and waiting to see what new opportunities come around. I’m really open to anything, as long as I feel passionate about it.

Any advice for a new student starting college?
Don’t try to figure out what you want to do on your first day of school — try a little bit of everything and then follow your guts when you have to pick a major or a minor. Participate in as many extra-curricular clubs and events as you can: not only they will look good on your resume, but they’re an incredible opportunity to meet new people and learn about things you didn’t even know existed. And always do your readings!

Anything you’d like to add?
I miss JCU.