Alumni Highlight: Cronkite alumna charts own path in her career

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022


After graduating in 2012 from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Samantha Melbourneweaver has reached new heights in her first decade of post-graduate success. She is approaching her one-year anniversary as assistant managing editor for audience at the Los Angeles Times, and hopes to inspire future media professionals at the Cronkite School.

Melbourneweaver used her love of modern media to create a path for herself at the Cronkite School and in her career. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with emphasis on print journalism and online media and a minor in digital culture. Now, her job is to find and engage with the LA Times audience.

“I was exposed to so many different disciplines that I feel like I can learn anything. I feel like that’s actually what I got from Cronkite, that I learned how to learn things better than most people, and that’s useful in any industry,” she said. 

Her sense of belonging at the school came from her initiative to create a space where she could study what she enjoyed. Classmates used to ask her what she wanted to do after graduating. “I didn’t really fit into any of those specific tracks,” she said. “I don’t know, I guess it doesn’t exist yet,” she would tell them. 

Melbourneweaver had five internships across different areas of journalism. In college, she worked for The Arizona Republic as a multimedia breaking news reporter, then she interned for USA Today. At that time, Melbourneweaver participated in the Ghost Factories, an award-winning project that led to government investigations. She also kept the fallen soldier database updated among many other responsibilities. 

“If you’re doing something new, there are no dues. No one’s doing it. Just go do it, don’t wait, just go try,” she said. “There’s inspiration everywhere and Cronkite’s a really good conduit for that.” 

Vanessa Franko worked with her at Southern California News Group. They met at Coachella in a line while Melbourneweaver was working on an assignment in 2016. Now they work together at the L.A. Times and are both editors. 

“She can talk to anyone and everyone likes working with Sam,” Franko said.

Melbourneweaver was heavily influenced by her professors, whose lessons continue to guide her in her current job. It has become important for Melbourneweaver to keep in touch with her professors because she values connection with those who taught her.

She reflected on how Cronkite Faculty Associate Richard de Uriarte taught her to understand her audience by adding the ethical question “Where’s the money?” to the five Ws of journalism. She remembers him saying in class “that’s the real story behind every story.” 

Faculty Associate Rebecca Dyer described her as “thoughtful and quick to learn.” She remembers Melbourneweaver’s great sense of humor and optimism. 

“I’m really proud of her, and it’s just fantastic what she’s doing. I’m so glad she loves what she’s doing,” said Dyer, who teaches a grammar class at Cronkite.

Dyer said Melbourneweaver had “that joie de vie, that sense of optimism, that joy of life. Knowing that you’re going to wake up the next day and do something you absolutely love, and that’s super important.”

By ChristyAnn Hanzuk