Chicago Chapter Member: Katie Zhu

Katie Zhu is a Northwestern University junior exploring the intersection of journalism and technology. She was raised in the United States, Switzerland and Asia, speaks three languages and helped build GOOD’s mobile site. She is among the inaugural winners of the AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship and can eat five fish tacos in one sitting. Read Katie’s blog and follow her on Twitter (@kzhu91).


Who do you look up to in the news industry as a role model?
A few people I look up to in the news industry are Bryan Boyer, Heather Billings and Michelle Minkoff. I really admire the ways they’ve all been able to find their way to the intersection of journalism and technology. Not only is their work impressive, but they’re all great people, super down to earth and awesome to talk to.

Have you been involved with AAJA at all in your career?
I (together with another former Medill student) helped organize an AAJA event on Northwestern’s campus a couple years ago. I’ve attended a few events in the Chicago chapter, as well, but school has kept me pretty busy.

What inspired you to get into journalism?
I actually applied to journalism school on a whim. I really loved Northwestern and Chicago when I visited, and I’ve always been into the humanities and writing, so I thought, “Hey, I’ll give journalism a shot.” Once I got to Medill, it was pretty easy to get into it, being surrounded by so many great resources and motivated peers.

What are your thoughts on media diversity and why is it important to you?
As a Chinese American, I grew up straddling lines. The line between my ethnicity and nationality. The line between my sense of “home” and whatever continent my family was living on that year. And now, in college, the line between journalism and computer science.

Media diversity is extremely important to me not only for personal reasons, but also professional. It’s not enough to talk about racial diversity in media, but also a diversity of skills — programmers, editors, reporters, designers, they all have a stake in news. Media is diverse and far-reaching; it has the ability to connect individuals around the world and influence opinion. Diversity is of the utmost importance for this reason — what kind of media promotes narrow-mindedness or singular viewpoints?

What are you most proud of?
I’m pretty proud of I worked on an awesome team during the summer of 2011. I went in with only a quarter of CS classes under my belt (and not even the substantial programming classes), no knowledge of Ruby or Rails, and by the end of the summer, we built this awesome product. It’s still kind of unreal to me.

Learn more about other AAJA members profiled for AAPI Month.