"It was a great opportunity to report in Paris and in New York"

"It was a great opportunity to report in Paris and in New York"

Valentine Pasquesoone, graduate from the Dual Degree Sciences Po/Columbia
  • Valentine Pasquesoone Crédit photo: FranceinfoValentine Pasquesoone Crédit photo: Franceinfo
May you describe your academic and professional background? 

I studied at the Lille Institute of Political Studies for four years, including a year abroad at American University in Washington D.C., before studying journalism through the dual degree between Sciences Po and Columbia journalism schools. I started working as a fact-checking intern at the International Herald Tribune when I came back from Columbia, and then worked for several months as a freelance journalist for several online publications (Worldcrunch, Al Jazeera, Libération.fr or BFMTV.com, among others). In September 2014, I joined France Télévisions to work as a researcher and producer for "L'angle éco", a program focusing on economic issues. I wrote as well stories for francetvinfo.fr as part of my job for this program. I then worked for a year for France 2's political program, L'Emission politique, during the 2017 presidential campaign. In the summer of 2017, I joined franceinfo.fr to work as a multimedia reporter for them. I've been working with them for almost six years. As I started working for France Télévisions, I worked as well as a lecturer for the American University of Paris, Paris 8 University and since 2019, Sciences Po Journalism School. I've been teaching a local reporting and writing class for four years now.

What is your job title today? How is your daily routine? 

I work as a multimedia reporter covering international news and features for franceinfo.fr, working as well sometimes with the television channel franceinfo. The daily routine varies a lot! A majority of our time is dedicated to longer term stories in our area of expertise (explainers, features, investigations...), but we also cover breaking news. For me, each day starts with looking at the international news of the day, then we have our daily editorial meeting where we talk about ideas, angles to cover breaking news and the news of the day. I might work on an explainer for half a day or a day, or continue working on my longer term stories (preparing a report abroad, working on an analysis or an investigation for instance). As a reporter covering international news, I've had the chance to report on news and feature stories abroad (in Europe but also in the U.S. several times, in Mexico or in Brazil), and it has been an incredible opportunity. Last year, I reported for instance in Germany and Poland, in Latvia and in Brazil. Another part of the job that I really appreciate is its multimedia aspect, working for an online publication. I love to be able to write, work on photography and produce short videos when I'm reporting. And when we cover breaking news at the newsroom, we work on franceinfo's live feed, edit wire stories or work on explainers as well. It's a very diverse job! 

What were the main takeaways from your degree? 

I've learned a lot during my three years studying journalism at Sciences Po and Columbia. Both schools were very complementary. During my first year at Sciences Po, I learned the essentials of reporting and writing, while practicing different kinds of journalism (print and online, television, radio) to be able to find what I wanted to specialize in. I learned essential skills in multimedia reporting, skills that I developed during my second year as I had chosen to specialize in online journalism. My second year was also an opportunity to work on longer stories, for instance through our final project. The program at Sciences Po was already very international, which gave me an opportunity to start writing in English and better prepare for Columbia. The program at Columbia was very much focused on local reporting and writing at first, which was such a great experience. The rest of the year for me was more focused on multimedia storytelling, particularly on video stories, and on longer projects. Not only was I able to learn so much and practice a lot during these three years, but I also met so many professional journalists during my time at Sciences Po and Columbia. It's an essential part of your studies: starting to develop contacts with professionals who could, one day, become your editors. 

What memories did you keep from your school, your cohort, your teachers?  

I have very fond memories of my time at Sciences Po and Columbia. It was great being surrounded by people from many different backgrounds, in an international environment, and sharing the same passion and goals with these people. I've met classmates who have become some of my closest friends, and they still are today. I've also learned so much from our professors and I'm still in contact with several of them. The program was intense, it was a lot of work but I remember being passionate about the work that I was doing. It was also a great opportunity to report in Paris and in New York, to spend months covering a specific area in such a fascinating city. 

What advice could you give to a student who would like to become a journalist? 

If you're passionate about this, if this is really what you want to do, then go for it. Yes, it's a difficult and very competitive field, you might work in contract positions for several years but it's 100 percent worth it if you're passionate about this. It is of course very important to know the kind of journalism you're more interested in, the topics you want to cover the most, but be open to new opportunities, new topics, new formats. Journalism is a constantly evolving field and it's an opportunity to try many different aspects of this job. As a journalism student, try to practice as much as you can: develop your area of expertise but also learn the skills that will make you able to work as a freelancer for several media.
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