SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - While Natasha Alford has been asking the questions as a journalist for years, she switched roles and sat down with NewsChannel 9 to share her story.
As deputy editor of TheGrio, Natasha has found herself to also be in the position of “the people’s journalist” as she tackles hard news, violence, culture and entertainment news impacting the nation.
Much of her reporting is done in New York City and surrounding areas, but there’s no limit to where she might travel to get the truth.
Natasha’s journey also has stops back in her hometown community of Syracuse.
“What's been great about coming home is that I am writing a lot more about the journey of growing up in Syracuse and the journey I’ve been on as a journalist,” Natasha shared.
Natasha speaks proudly of her Afro-Latina heritage -- a gift from her parents -- that’s rooted rich culture in her storytelling soul.
“I grew up in a multicultural household,” Natasha said. “I understood from a very young age that I was black and the world would see me as black, but I also understood that I had multiple cultures that I was drawing from and I did not see women that looked like me on TV.”
Natasha’s passion for writing, storytelling and public speaking launched long before her Nottingham High School days.
Excelling at public speaking, Natasha spoke at her high school commencement and gave a speech so memorable a friend illustrated the occasion on a graduation card she found in an old scrapbook just about a month ago.
As the memories washed over her, Natasha smiled continuously. She remembered what it was like to share with everyone she had gotten into Harvard University.
Natasha graduated from Harvard in 2008 with a degree in social studies. She would use her teaching gifts to enhance the lives of young students in Washington, D.C.
Out of those experiences, she was witnessing change, but she knew there was more she could do to impact the world.
To find her next move, she reflected on her high school days.
“The local paper actually played a huge role in my life,” Natasha said. “My junior year of high school -- the paper profiled me and followed me throughout the year and what I learned from that was the power of media -- to tell a story and to help people to dream and see what was possible.”
Natasha made her next move and got her master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2014.
She’s been digging in and telling stories ever since.
Just last year, Natasha was named Emerging Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Her accolades don’t stop there, but it’s not about titles or trophies to this Salt City-born storyteller.
“People have always asked that question of, 'how did you make it?' or, 'how did you know this was your dream and how are you going to go after it?'” Natasha shared. “And… Syracuse really raised me. Syracuse came together, from teachers to community organizations to just people that believed in me and helped me to see what was possible in a way that I couldn't see for myself. And so, I think I want to tell the story of my community so that others can feel that their dreams are possible too.”
What’s been possible is believing nothing is impossible.
Natasha has been asking hard-hitting questions to some of the most prominent people in politics and the entertainment world.
Next to interviewing big names, the people’s journalist is focusing on just that -- the people.
“I’ve covered a lot of issues related to policing in America,” Natasha shared. “It's obviously been a very intensely-debated topic and I decided to do a story about the Newark Police Department's effort to build a relationship with the community. I profiled this program where they brought together police officers and community activists and followed them over the course of a month. I saw them building relationships. I saw them disagreeing about certain
things but really trying to work through it.”
Though her journey is far from over, Natasha is grateful to those who have inspired and mentored her, so she’s never hesitant to share her knowledge with the next generation.
“Oftentimes, we think it's the big battles that matter. It's actually the small battles,” Natasha said. “When it comes to learning your craft, it's getting the small things right every single day and when you do those small things every single day...when you get your big moment, you'll be ready to shine.”
It’s evident Natasha’s next “big story” has already been written in her heart.
The story in every step of her journey, every breath she takes in her hometown, and now, she just has to tell it.
“I think I will always be a storyteller,” Natasha said. “I will always be a speaker -- that is my first love. But most importantly, I think I am going to be writing my own story. Coming home to Syracuse, spending more time here, writing the story that's really the story of a lot of young women that hasn't been told yet.”
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