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Faculty Spotlight: Kaya Laterman

This spring Kaya Laterman joined the Hunter College journalism program, where she teaches one of its most historically rich courses, Neighborhood News. 

Growing up, Laterman became interested in journalism after seeing her father read newspapers every day. During high school, she realized, after reading The Washington Post, that the knowledge she gained from newspapers was more interesting than what she learned in school. “I thought, this would be such a fun career. To interview all these people and do research and write about different topics. So, I knew in high school I wanted to be a journalist,” Laterman says.

During her first year at Rutgers University, Laterman believed that she would flourish in radio news; however, after a semester working at Rutgers’s news station, she realized radio wasn’t for her. “I heard my own voice on the radio one day and I was so horrified to find out that I did not have a radio voice,” she says.

The following semester, Laterman decided to switch to newspapers. Jobs at the main campus paper in New Brunswick were hard to come by at the time, but Laterman eventually landed a gig writing for the Cook College newspaper.

After graduating, she faced another obstacle: finding a job during a “mini recession” in 1994. “There weren’t a lot of newspaper writing jobs,” she says. 

Frustrated but determined, she recognized her fluency in both of her native languages, English and Japanese, and began applying to Japanese newspapers that had New York City bureaus covering the United States. 

Her fluency helped her secure an internship during the summer after her graduation and led to her first full-time position at Nikkei Newspapers. Although she wasn’t assigned to write anything in that first position, she was surrounded by opportunities.

Throughout her journey, Laterman took jobs in areas where she had little interest or experience. From 1995 to 2001, she wrote about finance in New York City and Japan. 

Laterman became a full-time freelancer in 2001, and wrote articles on real estate, gentrification and finance, as well as profiles. Although she was successful, she wanted a full-time job again. 

Laterman became a professor at Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, and is now at Hunter. She is also the managing editor at BK Reader, a hyperlocal news site, where, along with other freelancers, she writes articles for the local Brooklyn community on a variety of topics. 

Laterman says that her experiences have helped her in the classroom. “Journalism is an active job,” she says. “Sure, we can talk about [the skills] in the classroom, but I’d rather you do it. It’s so cliche, but practice makes perfect.” 

Our Journalism Concentration & Minor

The Hunter College journalism program is offered as a concentration or a minor within the Department of Film & Media Studies. Its curriculum is built around production courses in journalism and analytical courses in media studies. Learn more about our course requirements.

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