You can see her on CNN or read her byline in POLITICO. But before she landed those prestigious jobs, Laura Barrón-López ’13 (B.A. political science), was a reporter for the Daily Titan. Within days of moving to campus, the freshman walked into the newsroom, introduced herself and convinced them to give her assignments.
“I wrote for the Daily Titan my entire freshman year and by my sophomore year, I was a news editor,” she said. “I realized the best route to a career at a news outlet in Washington, D.C., was to gain experience reporting for a professional publication — building a portfolio of clips in topics that interested me — and become an expert in what I covered. So that meant, for me, majoring in political science.”
As a junior, Barrón-López was accepted into a Washington, D.C. journalism program that placed her in an internship with Roll Call, an established Capitol Hill newspaper.
“Nailing that first internship changed everything,” she recalled. From there, other opportunities followed. By the time she graduated, she had interned at The Orange County Register for more than a year and had completed a summer internship at The Oregonian.
Those internships, coupled with her degree and the relationships she had built with her political science professors, helped her land a fellowship in D.C. at the trade publication Environment & Energy Publishing immediately after graduation. Recently, Barrón-López was selected as “Alum of the Year” by the Department of Politics, Administration and Justice.
About four months after she arrived in Washington, D.C., she landed her first full-time gig at The Hill newspaper as an energy and environment reporter.
“I had cut my teeth on energy reporting at The OC Register covering the California Public Utilities Commission and the solar power fights in the state,” she said. “From The Hill, I moved to Huffington Post to be one of their lead congressional reporters, covering both the House and Senate. Writing about policy at a breakneck pace and stalking lawmakers daily in the Capitol was a formative experience that I draw from to this day.”
She would eventually go on to work at The Washington Examiner where she proposed a beat dedicated to covering Democratic Party dynamics, an area in which the Examiner was not well sourced.
Then POLITICO came knocking. Barrón-López is currently a national political reporter for Politico, covering the presidential election, race and demographics. In the summer of 2019, she signed a contract with CNN as a political analyst, meaning she appears on TV roughly 3-4 times a week, depending on demand.
“I share my reporting, including stories I or my colleagues have broken in POLITICO,” she said. “I break down the decisions made by our elected officials and provide insight primarily on the Democratic presidential primary. While I’m an on-air analyst for CNN, I do not write nor break news for them.”
Although her work with POLITICO takes priority, CNN does require a substantial portion of Barrón-López’s time. In the lead-up to the Iowa caucus, she was on the ground with POLITICO colleagues, covering rallies, phone banks and interviewing voters. But she left early the day of the caucus to fly back to the district to provide live analysis of the election results on CNN late into the night.
As election results rolled in the night of the March 10 primary elections, Barrón-López provided live analysis alongside Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon, from 7 p.m. until 3 a.m., while joining her POLITICO colleagues periodically on a live chat published on POLITICO’s website.
Barrón-López has years of experience covering congressional races, reporting in the field during the 2016 and 2018 elections. This year, her main focus has been the Democratic presidential primary and focusing on how Democrats are reaching key populations like African Americans and Latinos.
“In the last year, the spread of disinformation and the progressive movement have been additional focuses of mine,” she said. “Now with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, my beat has shifted to meet the moment. Since isolating in my apartment, I’ve built up sourcing with public health professionals and epidemiologists. I’m covering coronavirus through the lens of race and ethnicity and will continue to shine a light on health disparities that have existed for generations. I also continue to cover the presidential race.
“In my field, a key part of success is to constantly communicate with and expand your sources. Across industries, but especially in journalism and politics, make strong connections and be relentless.
“Do not wait until graduation to push your way into a lawmaker’s or professor’s or candidate’s office, depending on what you want to pursue,” she continued. “Don’t wait to email a journalist or editor at a local paper.
“I’m a brown woman — you know that as soon as you look at me or read my byline. In the halls of power there are few of us in the press corps but our numbers are growing.
“As a senior reporter for a major publication I’ve helped push POLITICO to cover demographics and ensure that typically forgotten voters, including African Americans and Latinos, are a key part of our coverage,” she said. “It’s vital to cover how policy impacts different populations and to bring your experience and understanding to the table. I also hope it’s inspiring to others to see a Latina with curly hair and silver hoops on CNN.”
Contact: Valerie Orleans, firstname.lastname@example.org