Samantha Sartori started every morning of fourth grade doing her favorite thing: delivering the news on the morning announcements. Now, as a news writer for WGN-TV, she’s writing it.
Sartori graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2015 with a degree in broadcast journalism and minors in environmental science and business administration. She wasn’t always on the journalism track, though. As a freshman, she majored in environmental science, only taking a few introduction to communication classes out of interest, she said.
“But then I realized chemistry and calculus aren’t my strengths,” said the Pittsburgh native. “As much as I loved environmental science, I didn’t think the science aspect was right. I knew I loved journalism.”
Sartori became actively involved in a number of student organizations in Loyola’s School of Communication and completed several internships.
“[In journalism], you can’t get away with not being involved in anything. You need a portfolio; you need to show that you’ve done things,” she said.
While at Loyola, Sartori was president and vice president of Loyola’s chapter of Society of Professional Journalists, assistant news editor of The Loyola Phoenix and a regular radio host on WLUW.
Sartori was also a news intern at WGN-Radio and a morning news intern at WGN-TV. As an intern at WGN-TV, she worked with the segment producers, booking and preparing guests, researching, and coming up with segment ideas. As a senior, Sartori was the events and communication intern at Chicago Wilderness.
Sartori said these internships helped to land her jobs with WGN-TV and Chicago Wilderness, where she’s the social media contractor, so quickly out of college. She started her job search in May and by mid-June, she was sending in her schedule availability to WGN-TV.
As a per-diem news writer, her weekly hours vary, she said. Some weeks, she fits in 40 hours. Most weeks, though, she works about three days, leaving time for her social media job with Chicago Wilderness.
The hours can be crazy, she said, and it’s taken awhile to adjust to them. Some nights, she heads into the newsroom at 2 a.m. for a 4 a.m. show. But all things considered, she said, her chaotic schedule has its benefits.
“If I was just on the morning show or just on the evening show, I would only know one of those two things, but it’s such a different experience on each show, so you’re learning how to tackle different things,” she said.
“I’m the person they can call at any hour of the day to come in,” she added. “My schedule is all over the place … but I joke that I’ve done journalism at every hour of the day.”
Sartori said Beth Konrad and Lee Hood were two of her most influential professors at Loyola, and the class that had the biggest impact on her was radio news with Konrad. She said it was the only class that taught her the reality of the quick turn-around in broadcast news.
“In my job right now, I have to be able to write a story, you know, five minutes before it goes on air … Let’s say I’m on the morning show. I get to work at 2 a.m. and the show starts at 4 a.m. I’m assigned various stories throughout the rundown and I have to edit video, write scripts and fact check, so you have to be really fast.”
Although WGN has given her many learning opportunities, Sartori said there isn’t much room for doing some of the things she loves most.
“I would love to do more long form in the future, something like 60 minutes,” she said. “I love the writing, I love the video and I love packaging it all together and telling it in a really visual medium.”
Sartori said her passion for journalism comes from her desire to inform others.
“Whether I’m in fourth grade letting you know what’s for lunch or if your bus is going to be late … or now, telling people the news about their country or the city they live in … that’s always what it’s been about for me.”
By Mary Byrne