Meet IowaWatch’s newest staff writer, Drake student Marie Nalan

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Marie Nalan, a Drake University student, has joined IowaWatch's staff.

IowaWatch is delighted to introduce you to our latest staff member, Marie Nalan of Drake University. Here she shares a little about herself. You’ll see her byline soon.

My name is Marie Nalan, a soon-to-be professional reporter from Grand Rapids, Minn. While I grew up in Minnesota close to the Canadian border, I have family roots in both Mason City and Clinton, Iowa. I am a junior at Drake University, studying news journalism and history. Environmental advocacy and politics are really important to me, but in my down time, I love to knit and go camping.

I am honored to be interning for IowaWatch, which does important work all across Iowa. You may be seeing some of my work coming up soon.

IowaWatch: What about journalism appeals to you? Why are you pursuing a major in news?

Journalism when done well is an equalizing tool. Storytelling can shed light on overlooked problems in society and lead to justice being served for underserved communities. Our job is to help people like veterans, immigrants, children and the elderly tell their stories. I have so much respect for journalists who are devoted to telling the truth to help their communities.

And now more than ever, journalists play critical roles in our democracy. The truth must be told to inspire effective policy that works for everyone, and public servants must be held accountable to their constituents.

Instead of being a writer that cranks out mindless content, I hope to be a reporter that helps bring about justice and change in Iowa and in our world.

IowaWatch: What is your favorite story you have written or worked on as a reporter and why?

Last semester on Drake’s campus there were a handful of hate incidents targeting students of color. I attended a forum with student activists and administration. Suddenly, people around me started receiving robocalls targeting those attending the forum, threatening violence against those in the room.

Panic broke out. Tears were shed. No one knew what was going on. My first instinct was to wonder if anyone from the school newspaper was there in the room. Was anything being written down? Was anyone taking pictures?

I called the editor of the school newspaper and she arrived quickly. She took pictures and took notes, and after the meeting I ran around the room and got some interviews. We stayed up late in the newspaper office to finish the story, which ran in the next morning.

That is probably my favorite story I’ve written. It was under intense circumstances, but it was exciting and I felt like I was making a difference.

IowaWatch: What will your internship with IowaWatch offer?

IowaWatch does amazing work for Iowa. I am honored to be able to work under such experienced journalists. I cannot wait to learn from them and collaborate on work that helps Iowa communities.