Guest Speaker: Mariah Stewart

Mariah Stewart during a visit to the #Virtual300 class at Lindenwood University.

Mariah Stewart is a writer for the Huffington Post in St. Louis. Before her career in professional journalism, Stewart was a Communications student at Lindenwood University. She took the Super Semester class with instructor, Jill Falk, as well as the Online Journalism course that we are currently enrolled in.

Stewart first began writing for the Huffington Post after seeing a post on Twitter from Beacon Readers. The tweet mentioned that the Huffington Post was seeking a writer to cover the events occurring in Ferguson, Missouri after the shooting of Michael Brown.

Since the shooting in early August of 2014, Stewart was involved with coverage of the riots and court hearings. Stewart mentioned at the hearings in the municipal courtrooms were a big moment for her because she was able to interview people every night and was involved with “strong investigative reporting.”

“I was able to really uncover the truths,” Stewart stated.

One of Stewart’s mentors through the early stages of her position at the Huffington Post was Ryan J. Reilly. Reilly is a Washington D.C. based writer for the Huffington Post.

Stewart noted Reilly as an, “Essential part in helping me grow as a journalist.”

While covering the events in Ferguson, Stewart often found herself among some of the top journalists from major networks around the United States.

“When there was a heavy population of national journalists…it was intimidating,” said Stewart.

Stewart claims that Lindenwood was a big part in her career and that the school prepared her for her job in the ‘real world’. Although her formal collegiate education is over, she’s still being educated every day.

“I feel like I am constantly learning out in the field,” Stewart stated.

One thing that Stewart learned while covering Ferguson was to stay safe. She claims that being out on the scene during events such as the riots were, “so unpredictable, especially for the first few weeks.”

Stewart mentioned that many of the journalists out on the scene would “clique up” and travel together as an extra safety precaution.

Even through Stewart has learned a lot and enjoys her job as an investigative reporter, she admits to some personal challenges along the way.

“Although I like investigative reporting, my personality doesn’t mesh well,” Stewart said.

She also mentioned that investigative, hard hitting journalism might not be for everyone.

“Not everyone has to cover Ferguson,” Stewart stated. “Covering the topics I’ve covered gets heavy, it’s emotionally tolling.”

Since Mariah Stewart has come to speak with the class, I learned that if I don’t have the drive to be an investigative journalist, there are other routes I can take. She also inspired me to put my work out there and to try my best.

Some things that she talked about that related to #Virtual300 were the usage of social media and making connections. She recommended that we utilize Twitter because that is one of the major ways she looks for news. Also, she said to be active on Hootsuite and Feedly, two sites that every #Virtual300 student is a member of. Finally, she made a point of saying to make connections and network.

Follow Mariah Stewart on Twitter @MzzzMariah

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