Alumni Award Profile: Julia Carpenter

Julia Carpenter (ABJ ’13) is this year’s recipient of the John E. Drewry Young Alumni Award, honoring a graduate of the last decade who has experienced a successful early career.

Carpenter is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. She previously worked at both CNN and The Washington Post, and has also written for publications including Glamour, Vogue and New York Magazine.

Covering stories on gender, culture, finance, technology and everything in between, Carpenter has received several awards for her reporting. In 2019, she was honored with the Excellence in Business Coverage Award from The Association of LGBTQ Journalists for her story “When Work Puts You Back in the Closet,” published in CNN Business. In 2020, she received a Front Page Award in the Personal Service category from the Newswomen’s Club of New York for her reporting in WSJ’s “The New Rules of Money” series.

In addition to reporting, Carpenter also publishes a daily newsletter, “A Woman to Know,” and mentors aspiring writers through Girls Write Now.

Following is a brief interview with Carpenter:

GC: What is it about your field that appeals the most to you? Why did you decide to enter that field?

JC: I’m a big talker and an obsessive journaler. As soon as teachers saw those two things, they started recommending I think about studying journalism. In my career now, those two things — my chattiness and my note-taking — are huge strengths of mine. As a student, I loved the idea that journalists could ask anyone about anything and spend all day learning about everything. Even today, I’m still marveled that I will think “I wonder how that’s going to work?” and then I’ll call someone and say, “You’re the expert, and I’m a journalist — can you tell me how that’s going to work?”

Carpenter is currently based in New York City, where she reports for The Wall Street Journal (Photo: submitted).
GC: Looking back at your time at Grady, is there anything you wish you had done (classes you had taken, skills you would have liked to have learned, clubs to be involved with) that would help you with what you are doing today?

JC: As a college student, I was so intent on double-majoring (in English and in journalism) and excelling at the student newspaper. I wish I had taken more classes just for fun! Looking back on my time at UGA, I can truly think of only a handful of classes I took that weren’t fulfilling a requirement or adding to some other part of resume. If I could go back, I like to think I would do that differently. I know I would be a better writer for it, that’s for sure. 

GC: What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

JC: There’s no “right way” to build a career and a creative life. Stop trying to find it! Go to Marti’s and eat some pita chips.

Carpenter graduated In 2013 with a degree in journalism (Photo: submitted).
GC: What motivates you?

JC: The day after I publish a piece, I set aside time to read all the tweets, emails and comments responding to it. Sure, some of them are negative, and many require an eye roll or, in bad cases, a block and report. But I save all the emails that say, “you put words to what I was experiencing” or “thank God someone finally said this!” or — this one most of all — “I thought I was the only one.” Those motivate me. 

GC: Is there anything else you would like to share?

JC: I have spent countless hours, therapy sessions and fat baby tears stressing over finding a mentor. Everyone kept telling me “Do you have a mentor? You need a mentor!” and at all these different points in my career, I resolved to find a mentor who (I presumed) could shepherd me to career enlightenment. But here’s the thing: my strongest advocates and best advice-givers and most generous sounding boards have always been people at the same level as me. Some of them I met at The Red & Black, some of them I met at internships and some of them I met during my early days at my first job. But we’ve all come up together, and grown together, and I want future students to know that building those connections is enough. Now, these peers are worth more to me than any idea I had of some “Fairy GodMentor.”

This is one in a series of profiles about our 2022 Alumni Award honorees and Fellowship inductees. 
All our honorees and inductees will be honored at Grady Salutes: Celebrating Achievement, Leadership and Commitment on April 29, 2022 at Athens Cotton Press. Please visit our Grady Salutes registration webpage for more details. 


Alumni Award Profile: Julie Wolfe

Julie Wolfe’s (ABJ ’03) path to the news director’s chair at Seattle’s legacy television station KING 5 started at the University of Georgia, where she was president of DiGamma Kappa and news director at WUOG. She started her career as a reporter at KGWN in Cheyenne, WY, WGRZ in Buffalo, NY, and WXIA in Atlanta. When social media bloomed as a publishing platform, Wolfe turned her attention to digital journalism, taking on the roles of social media manager and then digital director at WXIA, before becoming the assistant news director. 

She took over as news director at WHAS in Louisville in 2018, leading the team through award-winning coverage of the Breonna Taylor case and launching its Emmy-winning investigative unit, FOCUS. Wolfe has been the news director at KING 5 in Seattle since June 2021. She served as a board member of RTDNA and is a graduate of The Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Journalism and the Center for Creative Leadership.

Following is a brief interview with Wolfe:

GC: What skill(s) should graduates and young alumni focus on to have success early in their careers? 

JW: Relentless optimism. You need both. Optimism without relentlessness is just wearing rose-colored glasses. Young journalists need to remember that what they do is important, and when done well, has a lasting and positive impact on their community.

Wolfe organizing live wall-to-wall coverage as news director at WHAS in Louisville. (Photo: submitted)
GC: What is it about the broadcast news field that appeals the most to you? Why did you decide to enter that field?

JW: I’m one of those people who knew what I wanted to do from the time I was young. The idea of telling important stories that helps people make more informed decisions was something I felt I could dedicate a career to pursuing. Every day is different, and there is nothing that compares to the energy and adrenaline of a group of journalists working together on a big news day. 

GC: What do you miss the most about being at UGA?

JW: I made lifetime friends during my time at UGA. Now, more than 20 years later, we’re spread around the country, but still support each other and cheer for the Dawgs. 

Wolfe with a group of KING 5 journalists outside KING 5 studios in Seattle, WA. (Photo: submitted)
GC: What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

JW: It’s okay to take a breath, a moment, a year. I was in such a hurry to get to the next step at every phase of my career, I look back and realize I didn’t always get the most out of where I was before moving to the next chapter. Right now, at 20 years old, you’re building who you ARE. There’s plenty of time to build what you’ll DO.

GC: What does this recognition mean to you?

JW: When Dean Davis called me about the award, I was so overwhelmed. It’s a difficult time to be a journalist. As a leader in journalism right now, I feel a huge responsibility to leave our industry in a better place: a place where we can continue to do important and vital work, dedicated to facts. A recognition at mid-career is a nod that you’ve done some things but have a lot more to do. It’s a position I’m embracing, and this celebration, to me, is a reminder that there is so much work left to be done. 

GC: What are your best strategies for keeping up to date with industry advancements?
Wolfe with Sr. Assignment Editor Kendra Gilbert KING 5. (Photo: submitted)

JW: Consuming news on all platforms exposes me to up-to-date information, but also creative and interesting ways to communicate that information. I’m an avid podcast listener so I can multitask. I also consume much of my news on mobile, and I think there’s still a lot of interactive presentation work to do on how we present news on the platform where people are consuming on the go. With Neilson now including BBO homes  (Broadband Only), we’re better poised to understand how viewers are watching local news on those platforms. While it’s important to keep searching for the best ways to use technology to collect, understand and deliver news, it’s also important to me that LOCAL JOURNALISM remains at the center of those advancements.

GC: Is there anything else you would like to share?

JW: Grady College of Journalism will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where the seeds of this career, this life, were first planted. Because of the great professors and great experiences I had then, I’ve built a fulfilling journalism career on that foundation.

This is one in a series of profiles about our 2022 Alumni Award honorees and Fellowship inductees. 
All our honorees and inductees will be honored at Grady Salutes: Celebrating Achievement, Leadership and Commitment on April 29, 2022 at Athens Cotton Press. Please visit our Grady Salutes registration webpage for more details.