Sara McCloskey (‘15) knew from an early age that she loved storytelling. In high school, she realized that journalism was her passion. McCloskey was the editor-in-chief of her high school paper. When she toured Ithaca College and The Ithacan, she saw how motivated everyone was in the Park School.
“Ithaca people are a certain kind of people,” McCloskey said. “Every time I meet an Ithaca person, they get me in a totally different way.”
McCloskey also knew that moving around the country was part of the job. McCloskey came to Ithaca from Norwalk, Connecticut. After graduation, she landed a job at the Cayuga Radio Group before transitioning into TV news broadcasting in Colchester, Vermont.
Then, McCloskey worked as a multimedia journalist at WRIC Channel 8 in Richmond, Virginia. Finally, McCloskey moved over to WRIC Channel 8’s NPR affiliate, Virginia Public Media, as a manager and internship coordinator.
“There are so many fun cities,” McCloskey said. “You have to start little to get started. I was able to experience different parts of the country.”
It was Richmond, a place rich in history, that McCloskey fell in love with. “I just love Richmond,” McCloskey said. “It’s a great area and I took this job so I can stay in the area longer and be more invested in the community that I really believe in.”
While at Ithaca College she worked for both radio stations, VIC and WICB. Eventually she transitioned to yet another leadership role as News Director for WICB. Based on her ability to climb the ladder in educational career, McCloskey always knew she would find herself in a leadership
McCloskey says she also noticed how much more competitive professional media outlets are compared to the healthy level of competitiveness at Ithaca College. She’s grateful for an education that taught her not to let the competitiveness of the field take over her goals and the way she treats others. Ithaca, she said, taught her how to best serve the community she is in instead.
“You’re given the opportunity to develop as a critical thinker, you're given the opportunity to explore other things that can help you with your reporting,” McCloskey said. “That level of critical thinking and reflection has really helped long term.
During her time at Ithaca College, McCloskey took her educational experience beyond the Park School when she and several other Park students traveled to Selma, Ala., for the 50th anniversary of a landmark moment in Civil Rights history: Bloody Sunday. The trip to Alabama gave her the opportunity to retrace the steps of the demonstrators, retelling the story of Bloody Sunday while working for NBC Nightly News to uncover stories that had not yet been told.
“Being able to see and feel all of this emotion and history was such a powerful moment,” she said. “I worked with a lot of women of color, and it was amazing to hear their perspective. It’s important to hear from those who are historically not heard from.”
McCloskey also credits the Park Center for Independent Media and Jeff Cohen for helping her find her voice in journalism.
“I still consider myself an ‘Indie’ reporter because of what Jeff Cohen taught me,” McCloskey said. “I learned from working with Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Our job is to not only be a historical record to everything that happens; our job is to find those answers. The overall education at Ithaca College exposes you to critical thinking.”
As an internship coordinator, she now sees even more value in her Independent Media Internship through the department. She said students should check out what other interns have been able to do and pay attention to the newsroom’s culture. Most importantly, McCloskey said budding journalists should try everything while in college to find where they truly belong.
“If you don’t love it, don’t do it. This job is hard, and you won’t make a lot of money. You do this job because it’s a public service, said McCloskey.” “This is the only thing I ever liked. This business is tough, but worth it.”