How To Be Award Winning Journalist and Social Technologies Strategist: Meet Sarah Jones

“I am most passionate about underreported stories, because I truly believe too much of our world is hidden behind repetitive headlines. At a time when social media and connectivity make it easier for us to know more about our world, we know so little.”

Happy Friday babes! I hope everyone is having a good start to the year. This week’s Feature Friday is a talented, hard-working, and very inspirational Girl CEO. She has traveled all around the world, and achieved so many amazing milestones in her career. What I admire about this gem, is her go-getter attitude and hard work ethic. I asked her to be in my diary because she inspires me to work harder at my own craft, and I know that her story will inspire you too. Also, we both share a love for Chicago. I am so lucky to know this one! Grab your morning cup of coffee, and enjoy your Friday read! Get to know….

Current City/State where you live: Quad Cities (border of Iowa and Illinois)

Hometown: Chicago

Full-time job: On Air Reporter  | Founder of Remembering Fallen Journalist

Hi Sarah! Welcome to The Boss Diary! So glad you’re here. Tell us all about how you started your career in Journalism.

I always thought I was going to be a doctor or biomedical engineer. Funny thing is when I was about 13 I wrote and published a magazine on cancer awareness. It was called CAM (Cancer Awareness Magazine for Kids). I cold-called American Cancer Society and they published it. And then cold called several hospitals and it was distributed to Leukemia patients and their families by American Cancer Society, Mt. Sinai, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo and John Hopkins. I drew these little cartoons, did all the research, wrote everything and at the time I thought it was because I was going to be a Doctor. Now looking back, that was my first published piece as a journalist.

I love how you share real stories with real people. Your journalism style is so authentic. How hard (or easy) is it to find the real stories that truly matter?

God bless you for your kind compliment. Thank you so much. I take my work very seriously and consider journalism a public service. And in order to do my best to serve the public it’s important to communicate with people. I just see our world as tiny, diverse, beautiful and complex. And the stories that are told should reflect the entire public that we serve. Nothing is ever black and white, there’s always a complexity to it which I try to maintain integrity in sharing. I am most passionate about underreported stories, because I truly believe too much of our world is hidden behind repetitive headlines. At a time when social media and connectivity make it easier for us to know more about our world, we know so little. And an informed society is the back bone of an efficient one. There are too many talking heads and opinions out there. Journalist are meant to present facts so that informed citizens can make decisions. Unless of course you witness a genocide first hand as a reporter – then there’s no sides about it.

How did you land your first story, and how did you feel once you received your assignment?

I was an associate producer for a biweekly feature in Chicago with the legendary Harry Porterfield at ABC7 in Chicago. Working under Mr. Porterfield is where I first got bit by the newsbug. I remember working in the station till after midnight, not getting paid (because technically it started as an internship but he gave me a title promotion), and I was doing my B.A. at the same time. That’s when I thought “there is nowhere else I’d rather be.” I don’t’ remember the first story I ever produced or reported, but this was the first story I produced that had a tremendous impact on me. Mr. Porterfield had stack and stacks of letters and I honestly love that man, we would laugh and joke and work hard. With his permission I was going through the stacks of mail and I found a twelve year old letter. This letter had no return address and was written by an acquaintance of a man named “Brett.” I used the phone book, random sources and tracked down the man who wrote the letter, who had lost track of Brett. And later found Brett. And well I wanted us to do a story on Brett because he was a man who was a quadriplegic who painted, drove and played sports. He was a remarkable human being and I was grateful that he was one of my first stories because at the beginning of my career I stopped using the term disabled. And began fighting for the term differently abled, and that’s because of Brett.

Everyone has a purpose, and it’s so refreshing to find women who are truly living out their dreams..How would you define your own purpose? 

My purpose career wise, is to help maintain an informed public to the best of my ability.

Who are some of your favorite female entrepreneurs/ journalists that you look up to?

Favorite female journalists and entrepreneurs — really good question. Journalist wise: Marie Colvin, Christiane Amanpour and Nima Elbagir. Entrepreneurs wise – I have two favorite male entrepreneurs – Richard Branson and Jeff Skoll. Female ones I love Veronika Scott of the Empowerment Plan in Detroit, Jess Ladd of Callisto, Dr. Elizabeth Hausler of Build Change, Social entrepreneurs are who I follow and pay attention to. Too many to name. I would love to see more women in AI.

Tell me one thing that most people may not know about you.

I’m love sports, especially extreme sports.

What would you say is your biggest challenge that you had to overcome this year?

Moving for the seventh time in ten years. I love moving and just having a dog makes it easy. At the same time, sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out on the personal milestones many of my friends and loved ones are going through. I love my career so I wouldn’t change anything for the world. And if I had to pick, I’d pick my career. At the same time, the constant moving makes the lonely times – a bit more lonely.

Name one thing that your hometown city is known for that some people may not know.

You can walk from the beach to the theater to the museum. Chicago has a bit of everything and it’s still laid back . It’s the midwest – where cali vibes meet the hustle and bustle of a new york. And the live music scene is amazing as well

What would the “18-year old you,” say to you today?

Well younger self would not believe older self-works this hard lol. I remember when my mom came to visit me when I was working in New York. And she said “honey, you need to take time to rest and not work so much.” And I stopped looked her straight in the eyes and said “Mom, did you ever think you would say that to me?” and she stopped, tilted her head, and burst out laughing “no.” I mean, I’m the kid she dropped off at pre-school who said “all those kids are here to play with me.” And when she said yes, I darted straight into the classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I won first place in every science fair, and got an almost perfect score on the math portion of my GRE. At the same time I LOVED TO PLAY and get into trouble. I would just tell 18 year old self to love myself more. I think if we all learned loving ourselves wasn’t selfish and truly understood what that meant, we’d all be better for that. I’d also tell 18 year old self to be patient.

Before you go, what is one piece of advice you would give to women out there who want to start a career in Journalism?

Be patient, learn coding – learn everything about the industry so no one can ever tell you can’t do something because you don’t have the training. Learn languages. And don’t pursue a career in journalism unless you love it. 

Fave 7:

  1. Summer activity: anything on water
  2. Restaurant in your neighborhood: I’m not telling lol, it’s my secret
  3. Podcast: don’t judge me I’m not a podcaster – you’ll find me playing outside and I refuse to wear headphone when I’m walking around and I still listen to the radio when I’m in the car. I don’t want to be so plugged in that I’m disconnected from the world around me.
  4. Lipstick: aquaphor, I wear lipstick for work but otherwise I find it drying —
  5. Color: RED
  6. Social Media App: twitter (for news)
  7. Disney movie: The Lion King 

Random 7:

  1. If you won $20 million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with that money? Invest it so that it can grow and I can do more with it
  2. How would you describe your best friend in 3 words? I’m blessed with many best friends. And they all have some basic characteristics in common – Loyal, Big Kids at heart, Trustworthy
  3. What is the last good book that you’ve read? “The Prize” ready it a while ago but it was the last really good one…I’m currently reading “The New Russia” by Gorbachev
  4. What is the best concert that you’ve been to? Coachella
  5. Number one travel destination in the world that you would like to visit? South America
  6. Who is your current celebrity crush? Jason Momoa, Morris Chesnut, Daniel Day Kim, Ian Anthony Dale, and don’t make fun but Paul Newman is my forever crush
  7. 3 things on your bucket list? Skydiving (don’t tell mom and dad), See the pink lake in Senegal, Have my own show (think Oprah, meets VICE, meets BBC)

Thank you so much Sarah for joining us today, and sharing your story in my diary! So much gratitude. Ladies – be sure to follow Sarah on social media – link below. Thanks for reading babes, and I’ll see you right here next Friday! 






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