Meet the Media – Natalie Bettendorf

Natalie Bettendorf

Natalie Bettendorf is the podcast editor of the Daily Trojan – University of Southern California’s student-run newspaper.

What’s your top priority at work for today?
Put simply: the truth. Journalism has become a dangerous profession in the United States. It always has been, particularly in many other countries, but I am honored to be in an industry where so many people are passionate about stories that convey the truth and nothing else. Reporters are valuable assets to democracy, and even more so when that democracy is under threat.

Tell us about your dream assignment.
I am fascinated with international relations, so I’d love to do a traveling audio assignment. There are many great scenes for audio storytelling with travel – airport natural sound, tour guide explanations and stand-ups everywhere. I have been obsessed with “The Daily” podcast by The New York Times since it first launched. Perhaps a ride-along with immigrants at the border or profiling a family in Venezuela who has chosen to stay rather than flee President Maduro’s political chaos. Any assignment that sends me to the depths of understanding humanity and satisfies that little flame of curiosity is an assignment worth pursuing.

Podcast Editor sounds like a fairly new position at a newspaper. How do the podcasts fit in to the Daily Trojan’s coverage? What kind of following do you have, and how has it developed?
My former news editor asked if I wanted to help him on a project – bringing the audio department back to life. It was a definite yes. It is important for a print publication to have an audio team these days because reporters must also be multimedia experts. Also, audio supplements print very well.

We ended up producing one weekly news podcast called “General Education,” and two biweekly podcasts called “Rhythm & News” and “Talkin’ Troy.” The latter two are hosted by our lifestyle and sports editors, while “Generation Education” was Karan (and now me!) hosting. Our following is low and we’re only just beginning to navigate proper promotion since we’ve been busy figuring out how to get the ball rolling. We recently took home an award for Best Podcast from the 2019 California College Media Awards for an episode of “General Education” that we produced in the fall. It was incredibly exciting!

Do you have a PR/marketing pet peeve?
I roll my eyes at brands that claim they know what “millennials,” “Gen Z-ers” or younger people want because they’ve “studied” or seen the “stats.” If you want to know what younger people want, hire them! I have great respect for brands that show respect for young people – I’m talking teens and pre-teens – to include them in conversations that are about them. I feel like we live in a world that doesn’t give young people enough credit for the potential they possess and the skills they already have. As much as people might make fun of companies for hiring “Gen Z advisors,” I applaud it.

What’s a top industry trend you’re currently following or are interested in?
I can’t stop talking about Snapchat! Not necessarily for personal use, but I’m impressed with the ways major news outlets are developing their brands on the platform. With Snapchat’s unique 10-second video limit, news outlets are forced to be creative with interactive graphics that convey the important stuff in 10-second increments. This is how my generation, and younger ones, are consuming news. I don’t know if it’s the future, but with waning attention spans, it’s something that reporters everywhere will have to think about a little more.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a journalism student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I’m a California girl through-and-through, born and raised in Berkeley. My parents both attended UC Berkeley to study English, and I attended Berkeley High School. Berkeley is my home and I can’t imagine growing up anywhere else. I’m in love with my dog, Tucker, which makes homesickness a million times worse when I’m away at school. But I absolutely love Los Angeles. I frequent diners in downtown LA and sunny Saturdays at the Santa Monica Pier with my roommates. After college, I’d love to work at NPR, either here in Culver City or in their headquarters in Washington, D.C. These two years are going to pass by in a flash, so I’m just working on loving it day by day.

Do you have a question for Natalie? Comment below or Tweet her at @natalierbett.

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5 Comments

  1. Ashley Boarman Reply

    Natalie – thanks for contributing to LCI’s blog. Yours was a fun read. I’m pleased you have found your calling so early in life, and it’s clear you are very passionate about truth in media. Looking forward to following your career in journalism.

  2. Craig MacLellan Reply

    Thanks for sharing, Natalie. As a former editor of my university newspaper. I love seeing the tradition of student journalism adapting to the demands of an ever changing media market. The demographic group you are targeting means you are on the front lines of this change, so I look forward to seeing how you and your generation continue to shape the future of the media.

  3. Polly Ikonen Reply

    Natalie, You’re doing great work at The Daily Trojan. Podcasts are a terrific channel for both reporting and creativity. And I totally agree with you about hiring Gen Z folks – you all hold the keys to the future, and those of us who have a few more years under our belts benefit from your perspectives and insights. (Just as I hope, ahem, you could benefit from ours as well 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us!

  4. David Cumpston Reply

    Nice “meeting” you, Natalie, and thanks for helping us all keep journalism alive and thriving. During this pivotal time in our lives, it’s more important than ever.

    – David C.

  5. David Landis Reply

    Natalie, thanks for a great guest blog. I’m glad we have a new generation dedicated to uncovering truth. As a result, journalism – and our democracy – will survive. Cheers, David