"Don’t listen to those who tell you journalism is dying"
- Kéthevane Gorjestani
May you describe your academic and professional background?
Following a French “licence” in Law at Paris II - Assas, I was part of the 1st group of students of the SciencesPo/Columbia University journalism dual degree program.
At SciencesPo, I specialized in TV and continued on that path with a Broadcast concentration (with a major in International reporting & a minor in Sports) at Columbia University, graduating in 2010. I joined France 24 in august 2010 as a freelance reporter, working for both the French and English service, covering a wide variety of international topics and events. In early 2016, I was named Sports Editor for the English service and covered the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 2018 Football World Cup, Euro 2016, as well as many big sporting events like the Tour de France and Roland Garros. In September 2019, I moved to the US to take over as Washington DC/White House correspondent.
What is your job title today? How is your daily routine?
I am currently the Washington DC/White House correspondent for France 24’s English service. A big part of my job is to cover US politics, both from the White House and from Congress, but I also cover breaking news and major events taking place in the Eastern half of the US. I have for example covered the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, the Space X launch from Cape Canaveral and the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v Wade.
What were the main takeaways from your degree?
As someone who covers the US for a French organization broadcasting around the world and who reports in 2 languages, studying both at SciencesPo & Columbia gave me the tools to not only understand but also adapt to the somewhat different approaches to US & French journalism as well as my different audiences. I found the 2 schools to be very complementary. I felt like each year taught me different skills but I would sum it up as SciencesPo giving me the necessary basics and Columbia allowing me to improve my technical skills and specialize in my preferred fields.
The dual degree also gave me access to a wide network of journalists from France and the US, but also from around the world.
What memories did you keep from your school, your cohort, your teachers?
Both SciencesPo & Columbia are very focused on their international “side” and that translates both in their students but also in their teaching, which has been a great source of knowledge for me, as someone who knew from the start that I wanted to work in an international newsroom covering international issues.
Studying with such diverse people (both students and teachers) was extremely enriching and fun!
On a more personal note, I met some incredible people that I now call friends and had some of the greatest experiences of my life living in Paris and New York.
What advice could you give to a student who would like to become a journalist?
Don’t listen to those who tell you journalism is dying, or that you’ll never find a job. Yes, it can be hard, especially when you’re just starting, interesting positions are very competitive, and some companies or fields are hard to get in to, but if you persevere, you’ll get there. When I first took over as Sports Editor, my sports knowledge was questioned because I was a woman, I proved them wrong. When I was named as Washington Correspondent, my legitimacy was challenged by some, because I was “just a sports reporter.” Again, I proved, through hard work, that I was in the right place.
One last piece of advice, make sure you really want to do this job. Try to do internships or freelancing work for different companies/media/fields to get to know the reality of the job (not just the idea you have of it). Journalism is a passion but it’s exhausting at times (hello crazy hours and no weekends). If you don’t really love it, you won’t last. But if you do, I guarantee you, you’re in for an incredible ride!