Master’s Alumni Profile: Adrianna Adame G’22

Adrianna Adame G’22

Newhouse Master’s Program: Magazine, News and Digital Journalism
Current Position: Indigenous Democracy Reporter at Buffalo’s Fire, Bismarck, North Dakota

How did you obtain your current position, and what positions did you hold before it? 

I obtained my current position after successfully applying to Report for America for the 2023-2024 cohort. Last December I completed my time as a Newhouse Graduate Minority Fellow. Once the holidays ended, I immediately began working on my application as I went on the job hunt. My former professors such as Aileen Gallagher and Melissa Chessher recommended that I apply to Report for America since I wanted to go into local news. It wasn’t until after a lengthy three-month long interview process that I found out I got the role at Buffalo’s Fire, a Native-led nonprofit online news organization.  

What’s an average day like for you on the job?

My schedule can be quite hectic at times, though I try to be well-organized. I usually start off the day responding to emails and calling sources to schedule interviews for stories. I am reporting on voting rights, tribal council, school board and rural co-op meetings, tribal college stories and K-12 education, but my main beat is Indian education. 

Then I go onto Slack and check in with my editor/the team. Sometimes I have Zoom meetings –– from June up until December 2023 I attended monthly meetings for the Solution Journalism Network’s rural cohort. Twice a week, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I go to the downtown office space we rent for my office hours, where members of the community are able to come visit me to chat, bring up concerns or discuss story ideas. Throughout the day I am also reporting on events, meeting sources for pictures/interviews and of course writing the story. Once I complete a draft, I contact my editor and then we begin going through the editing process together.   

How do you feel Newhouse prepared you for your current position?

Newhouse prepared me for my current position by teaching me multimedia and networking skills. Prior to Syracuse, I was solely a writer. After Syracuse, I was able to compete with others applying for my role because the magazine, news and digital journalism program gave me the ability to be a well-rounded and detail-oriented storyteller. Boot camp during summer 2021 really set me up for success and freshened up my reporting skills. My instructor, Julie McMahon, took the time to check in with each of us and gave us advice on how to find stories and improve our writing. Professor Harriet Brown’s News Reporting class during the fall took me to the next level in my reporting as I began to incorporate data and other visual elements into my work.  

As a part of my fellowship, Newhouse also funded my first Native American Journalist Association— now the Indigenous Journalist Association—conference in Phoenix. By providing me that opportunity, I got to connect for the first time with other Indigenous journalists. Despite being an enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe in Rocky Boy, Montana, I never lived on or visited my reservation. I grew up with the Mexican American side of my family in North County, San Diego, so while I got to learn some aspects of that side of my culture, I always felt disconnected from my Native side. Attending the conference was a big part of my reconnection journey.  

Did Newhouse open your eyes to new professions or aspects of your field you may have not considered when applying?  

Newhouse opened my eyes to a plethora of new professions and variety in my field. While I am primarily a writer, I became interested in multimedia storytelling after taking Professor Corey Takahashi’s class. After participating as a mentee in NAJA x Next Gen Radio in April 2022, I really began to get interested in audio stories and just began working with audio in my current work. I also gained an interest in editorial writing while in Syracuse. Though local news will always be my passion, I don’t mind expanding my horizons and trying new things.  

What unique features of your graduate program drew you to it?  

I only applied to two graduate programs—UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and Newhouse. While I got into both programs, I was already leaning towards Syracuse because of the amount of networking and professional opportunities offered. Magazine, news and digital journalism also seemed more aligned with my professional goals. I wanted to evolve from print to digital journalism and expand into multimedia storytelling. Once I was offered the Newhouse Graduate Minority Fellowship, my heart was set on Syracuse.  

Did the Newhouse Career Development Center aid you?

As a part of the Newhouse Graduate Minority Fellowship, I worked as an intern at for a year. I chose to write features as well as some arts and entertainment articles. Though it was a hectic period, I am glad I had the opportunity to work with my editors, including the thoughtful and detail-oriented Alaina Beckett. Prior to, I also was a Newhouse x POPSUGAR Voices fellow, where I wrote editorial pieces on the fitness, love, beauty, family, living, technology and Latina verticals. Some of my local news stories from the first six months in my program were also published in the Stand.  

What are some obstacles or misconceptions about your field that students ought to be aware of?  

After my cohort graduated, the job market was tough due to layoffs in the industry. Many people I know are still having trouble finding full-time work in journalism. It can be very discouraging at times. I know it might not sound helpful at the moment, but in time things do work out. The job hunt is a painful waiting game. But in the end, all the hard work you put into applications will pay off. It only takes one yes for your life (and career) to change for the better. Stay determined, no matter how hard things get.  

What moments in your career have been most exciting or defining thus far?   

I’ve only been at Buffalo’s Fire for six months, so I’m still fairly new in my job, but there have been few cool opportunities I’ve been able to experience. Back in November, I was invited as a mentor by Doug Mitchell for IJA x Next Gen Radio: Albuquerque. I assisted my uber-talented and super organized mentee, Molly Mamaril, as she reported her audio story on a Native Hawaiian scholar who is aiming to return home after she receives her doctorate to give back to her community. It wasn’t that long since April 2022 when I was a participant in NAJA x Next Gen Radio program, so I was grateful to be welcomed back so soon. Not only did I reconnect with old friends, but I made new ones as well. It felt amazing to be surrounded by other Indigenous journalists and also be in the position to help guide someone on their project.  

What advice do you have for current or incoming students?

I first came to Syracuse right after classes were back to in-person during the Covid-19 pandemic. After losing the last year of my undergrad experience, I decided during grad school I would make the most of it and say yes to everything. I encourage current and incoming students to step out of their comfort zone, for both their social and professional life. You’re only able to expand your skill set and meet new people if you try new things. One of my favorite classes was Professor Rawiya Kameir’s Critical Writing course. While at Newhouse I was experimenting with different forms of writing outside of the news. Kameir’s class taught me how to analyze, structure and write creatively. I appreciated the chill atmosphere and healthy environment that Kameir fosters.