From the Newsroom: Augustana Grad Takes New Role at The Washington Post
Meet Kaeti Hinck, a 2007 Augustana graduate who recently assumed a new role with The Washington Post. We caught up with Hinck, a journalism and religion major originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to learn more about her career and her Augustana experiences.
Q: You just took a new position with The Washington Post. Can you tell us about your new role? What are your chief responsibilities?
A. I'm leading the data team within the graphics department at the Post. Our team does data analysis, data-driven visual storytelling, news apps and other interactive journalism. As the assignment editor, I edit our projects, manage priorities for the team, build relationships with the newsroom, and hold our team to the highest journalistic standards possible.
Q. Talk about your journey after Augustana – what are some of the different roles you've held since graduation?
A. My career in journalism has been a bit of a winding road. After college, I was working as a freelance photojournalist and magazine editor. At the magazine, I eventually transitioned from working on only the print side to working primarily with our digital projects (video editing, web redesigns, etc.). I then moved into a tech leadership role at a nonprofit news organization in Minnesota called MinnPost. It was there that I had the opportunity to start working on data-driven and visual storytelling. After that, I worked for another nonprofit news organization as the design director, which gave me the opportunity to solve a lot of interesting design and interface challenges. I missed working on the editorial side, though, and that's how I ended up at the Post.
Every role I've had has given me something that I need to do my current job. And now, my job sits at the intersection of journalism, technology and design.
Q. Who were some of your most influential professors at Augustana? And why?
A. There are so many. Janet Blank-Libra and Jeffrey Miller, for their wisdom and support in the journalism program. Murray Haar and David O'Hara and Ann Pederson and Anna Madsen in the religion/philosophy department, for teaching me how to think and question and get comfortable with uncertainty. Carl Grupp and Scott Parsons in the art department for teaching me how to draw a chair and how to see light, and so much more.
Q. What motivates/inspires you about journalism in general? How did you become interested in this field? And, what keeps you interested?
A. I'm motivated by the power of good storytelling and by the opportunity to learn about the world around me. To be a journalist you have to be curious and deeply interested in why things work the way they do.
The stories we tell about ourselves are the lens through which we understand what it means to be human. And with journalism, I have the opportunity to dig deep into so many different topics and big questions.
Q. As a student, did you serve on the Mirror staff? Edda staff? If so, how did those experiences help prepare you for a career as a journalist?
A. I worked for the Mirror in some capacity all four years I was at Augie. My experiences working with the paper gave me a valuable glimpse into the world of journalism, and it was at the Mirror that I had my first shot at a leadership position.
Q. What advice would you give to a young person thinking about entering the field of journalism?
A. Your career will probably not look exactly how you imagine it will when you're in school — and that's OK. Don't wait for somebody to give you permission to work on something (or a job); start exploring the things you're curious about now. Most of the things I do in my current job are things I taught myself (at least at first). Get involved in professional organizations or local meetups. And, this is important: It's OK not to know everything. Speak up, ask questions, and admit when you need help.