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Profiles: Monica Guzman '05

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Monica Guzman '05
Director, Editorial Outreach, Intersect.com

Hometown: Born in Monterrey, Mexico, but grew up mostly in Somersworth, NH (from six years old on).

Title: Director, Editorial Outreach, Intersect.com

Bowdoin ties: Brother, Bernardo ’08

Twitter: @moniguzman
Website: moniguzman.com

Greatest influence: Orson Welles is up there. Film and theater prodigy who threw himself into his work, regardless of consequences, and seemed almost to laugh at risk—or at least stare it down. I'm nowhere near as ruthless, but I think it'd be fun.

Goals: To be a great storyteller in every medium, and to know at every turn and through every innovation what mix of media, form and delivery suits each story best. Another goal is to become a bona fide Seattle bike commuter. I've been at it for a couple weeks, but it takes a bit longer to build a habit.

Next vacation: Honeymoon in Tahiti, with one day in Disneyland, since my fiance, Jason Preston (Occidental '07) can't wait any longer to have me try the Monte Cristo sandwich from the resort's Blue Bayou restaurant. He raves about this thing. I'm getting married Aug. 7 in Medina, Washington.

Favorite Bowdoin memory: Thursday nights at The Bowdoin Orient. At some point, you stop looking at the clock and surrender to the paper and your own late-night insanity. It was fabulous.

Movie quote: It's a tie between "I'm not obsessing. I'm just curious" from American Beauty and "Ask us the sex question" from Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

First thing you drink in the morning: The milk in my Cascadian Farms Purely O's cereal. Then the chilled water I pull out of a mini-fridge at work.

On journalism and blogging: It really, really helped that I studied sociology, which is as much a frame of mind as a field of study. A bunch of people I tell about my background assume I regret not having been able to take journalism at Bowdoin. It's just the opposite. I'm almost glad I didn't have the opportunity to immerse myself in the academia of a craft that was about to go through so much turmoil and transition. However the business models shake out, the values of journalism—transparency, honesty, accessibility and civic service—are going to stick around. Studying sociology at Bowdoin, working as a writing tutor and getting a chance to develop my own voice as an Orient film columnist, helped me question convention and stay open to new ideas, including my own.  

In my mind, blogging is a more honest form of journalism in that it reveals it as a process, not a product. The best journalistic bloggers show their work, adopting the wonderful early blogger practice of acknowledging and linking to source material everywhere possible. They also allow for the kind of instant engagement and conversation that couldn't happen when a newspaper landed on a doorstep. That said, a blog is just a format, and online journalism is teeming with newer, more exciting spin-offs. Blogging was just the beginning. But the lessons of blogging—and tweeting and Facebooking and Foursquaring, for that matter—are carrying over to all written journalism and to the broadcast world, which is great. Bootstrap bloggers have to earn readers' trust without taking cover under a 100-years-old legacy brand. It's nice to remember even traditional journalists should be earning readers' trust every day.

Bowdoin influence: If there's one thing both my studies in sociology and film left me believing, it's that, as quoted in the Jean Renoir film The Rules of the Game, "Everybody has their reasons." It seems a lot of conflicts, divisions and misunderstandings stem from the fact that we all have different reasons for being who we are, thinking what we think and doing what we do. Storytelling in general and journalism in particular can get at those reasons, and maybe help us figure each other out. Other than that, few things get me going like an in-depth conversation with another human being. Bowdoin's discussion-based academic culture helped with that. Not to mention every former classmate who ever stayed up late with me to debate one thing or another.

On her move to Intersect.com: It's a Seattle-based startup founded by a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist. Living in Seattle for three years, I've gotten to know a lot of people with a lot of big ideas and almost no mental barriers to making them happen. At first, I was stunned. How can so many people be so OK taking on so much risk? A few months into my work at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, I discovered my own inventive streak. A couple years later, I felt this urge to work on something new and different. By the time Intersect came along, I couldn't say no.

In newsrooms, reporters focus largely on their own stories. At a startup like Intersect, everyone works intensely as a team. That's been pretty great.

Posted August 12, 2010