Zapotosky offers advice to current journalism students
By Hallie Kile
E.W. Scripps School of Journalism alumnus and Washington Post reporter Matt Zapotosky (BSJ ‘08) lives every journalism student’s dream.
Upon graduating, Zapotosky took a job at the Washington Post after having interned with that newspaper in 2007. Over the course of a decade, Zapotosky’s job title changed from “student” to “Justice Department reporter of the Washington Post.”
As an undergraduate student, Zapotosky wrote for Ohio University’s student newspaper, The Post, which prepared him for the work environment of a national news outlet. By his senior year, he was The Post’s editor-in-chief.
“Writing for The Post was like being a real reporter,” Zapotosky said.
Like many young students, Zapotosky didn’t always know what his beat would be.
“When I came to college, my thought had been that I wanted to be a sports reporter,” he said. That soon changed.
Knowing he wanted to write for The Post, Zapotosky started his by covering the law enforcement beat, followed by covering local government. Both of those beats helped him at the Washington Post, where he covered the local police department in Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland before eventually joining the newspaper’s National Security Team.
As a student, Zapotosky said his classes helped polish his skills and The Post allowed him to apply them. He received career advice and editing skills from E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Associate Professor Bill Reader, who teaches news editing, news and information literacy and community journalism classes.
Zapotosky advises current journalism students to “think about college in terms of the relationships that you can build,” including with professors and industry professionals.
He speaks from experience. One of Zapotosky’s most valuable relationships was with Mark Prendergas, a visiting professor from the New York Times. Prendergas offered practical advice to Zapotosky, as well as assistance with an internship essay, he said.
In terms of academics, the reporter has honest advice: “Don’t neglect class, but don’t treat [it] as the end-all,” he said.
Although Zapotosky graduated nearly 10 years ago, he is not far removed from the memories he holds of Ohio University. He reflects fondly on his time at The Post and his relationships with professors here.