When Mónica Marie Zorrilla ’17 starts as a full-time reporter at AL DÍA News Media, it won’t be her first time breaking stories for the Philadelphia-based bilingual news organization. Her new job comes on the heels of her semester-long internship there last fall.
AL DÍA began 25 years ago as a Latino newsletter, printed weekly from the North Philly basement of Hernán Guaracao, then a Colombian journalist seeking political refuge in the U.S. Guaracao, now the editor-in-chief and CEO of AL DÍA, slowly grew his newsletter into a bilingual news outlet that spans print, the web, and events and other content initiatives. (Currently, it informs Latino readers in the Tri-State area across multiple platforms while maintaining print sales of its weekly newsletter.)
Many of Zorrilla’s responsibilities in the newsroom will be similar to previous work she’s done at AL DÍA—researching, investigating, and interviewing people for articles she’ll contribute to the publication. Small in size, close-knit, comprised mainly of women and people of color, with a “niche audience and a specific array of topics,” it is, says the Haverford English major and Spanish and psychology minor , “a perfect fit for me.”
While choosing a job in Philadelphia away from her family after graduation was a difficult decision for the Miami local, she was motivated by the impact her writing has on her contemporaries. Hearing that her piece on the wrongful detention of 28 Central American mothers and their children was discussed in a Haverford class inspired her to pursue a job at AL DÍA after her internship.
“I finally felt like my writing could delve into the social- and human-justice issues that I was passionate about,” says the Cuban-American Ford. “The media has been under severe attack, and I keep motivating myself to take pride and assurance in this big step in my life [and] to see my work, the cultivation of my journalistic integrity and my voice, as an act of resistance.”
Before AL DÍA, Zorrilla contributed to the Bi-College News and Her Campus, but “the few pieces I wrote read more like diary entries or emphatic rambles than anything newsworthy.” With the writing she did have in her portfolio, “clips [of essays, short stories, and poems] in both English and Spanish,” she sought an internship at the bilingual news organization that didn’t offer part-time positions for students.
Only with persistence, did Zorrilla even secure a three-hour Skype interview with CEO Guaracao himself, and then an internship that lasted into this past February.
“I know that cold-calling is both unorthodox and risky,” she says. “But sometimes you need to go to many lengths to get your foot in the door.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.