By Jacob Karre
SAN MARCOS — During the final morning of Mass Comm Week, Elaine Aradillas, crime reporter for People magazine, talked about taking her career from South Texas to New York City.
Aradillas’ relationship with crime reporting started with her interest in art. At college she earned her degree in art from the University of Texas. Her initial intention was to become a journalist and cover art.
“At the time, I really wanted to write about art. I liked it, but I discovered I didn’t love it.” said Aradillas. “What I really I wanted was to tell stories. I wanted to share real and raw emotions.”
Aradillas explained how her first job at the San Antonio Express-News changed dramatically when she switched from covering basic news to the crime beat.
“I was nervous, of course. I sort of freaked out on my first assignment.” said Aradiallas. Her first crime story involved a fatality in a motor accident in which she experienced the true grit of covering crime.
“The thing about covering crime is that you can either handle it or you can’t. It’s just that simple. I could.” said Aradillas, reflecting on the gruesome scene.
From that point forward, Aradillas dropped art and pursued crime. This took her from San Antonio to New York City where she interned for The New York Times.
There she experienced the fast paced environment of the Times.
“At first, I was overwhelmed but excited. It was fast paced and new and a nice change of pace from the Express,” said Aradillas.
There Aradillas learned about the New York style of journalism. She talked about the “reporter’s bull-pen,” scrappy reporters and the chaos she experienced while covering events in the city.
After her 6-month internship ended, Aradillas knew she was ready to work in “the big leagues”. She began to “beef up” her resume, offering up a valuable tip she learned from a former editor.
“Use the five story rule. Prior to interviewing for a new position, write the five best stories you can. Editors want good and new writing,” said Aradillas.
Her plan worked. She interviewed with the editor of Time and was passed along to the editor of People, (a subset of Time Inc.) Aradillas landed her job. Since then she’s worked for People for nine years traveling the country, following big stories on the ground and sharing the real and raw emotions she craves.
Aradillas ended her talk by offering hope to aspiring journalists in the room with her.
“Despite what the majority thinks, I don’t think print is dead. Regardless of the digital age, journalism isn’t dead. We always need someone to share the truth.”