From the Tartan to the Eagle-Tribune
Jon Phelps, 25
Major: Communication Arts
Hometown: Northborough, Massachusetts
During his internship at The Salem News, Jon Phelps was told by a seasoned reporter, “The industry is dead—get out while you still can.” But when Phelps went home for Christmas break and continued submitting articles, the same reporter saw his tenacity. “Well, if no one can stop you from doing it, then it’s what you’re meant to do,” he told Phelps.
Phelps, a 2008 graduate from Northborough, Massachusetts, who majored in communication arts, has proved reporting and writing are what he’s meant to do—even if it means the fridge is barely stocked. “After college I drove a billboard truck and did landscaping so I could freelance, get my name out there, and hope for a full-time reporting job,” he said.
In February 2010 Phelps landed a job with the Eagle-Tribune as the beat reporter for the town of Andover, Massachusetts.
“I’m the eyes and ears of the community,” says Phelps. His day starts with finding stories, which means weaving himself into the community by talking with small business owners, reading bulletin boards and making himself a daily presence. “Stories that are easy to find aren’t usually the good ones,” he says.
Phelps has done his share of digging—staked out in a grocery story to cover the discontinuation of the yogurt brand Colombo; covering a Lawrence bar fight involving over 100 people; and going up in the Hood blimp to cover the story of its last flight.
“I love what I do. There’s something new and exciting every day,” says Phelps.
At the same time, Phelps knows his work makes a difference. He's
uncovered investigations and has written about children trying to raise money to keep the nonprofit North Shore Music Theatre from closing its doors.
Phelps believes his Gordon education prepared him for making the difficult ethical decisions he deals with as a journalist. “I want to do things right; I want to be fair in my reporting,” he says.
It wasn’t just journalism classes that prepared Phelps for his career. As a student some of his most memorable experiences were studying abroad in Honduras for sustainable tropical agriculture and participating in the Gordon in Boston program.
“Every class and experience at Gordon that taught me to open my mind, learn about a new surrounding, and not judge right away has helped me to be a better journalist.”
—Natalie Ferjulian, 2011