Where Are They Now? Bowdoin Orient Alumni on the Record
Some, such as ESPN sports analytics writer Seth Walder ’11, a former Orient sports editor and editor-in-chief, knew that joining the paper was a top priority the minute he arrived on campus.
“I was doing the Thursday production night all-nighters right from the beginning,” Walder said. (The paper comes out on Fridays.) “My second week of college, I would be in [the Orient's production house] until 5:00 a.m.—and I’d only been at Bowdoin for twelve days. It was an amazing experience.”
Other journalists became involved with the Orient on a whim—unaware that it would be the beginning of their careers.
“Journalism wasn’t on my radar when I was applying for colleges,” said Nathaniel Herz ’09, who served as news and managing editor of the Orient before going on to report for the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Public Media. “But having that group of people to work with and the Orient existing as a gathering place in the community for people to learn about how to do this kind of work was really important to me.”
“I was drawn to storytelling...I wanted to understand storytelling through journalism, but also through literature.” ”
—Kary Antholis ’84, founding publisher of Crime Story
The experience of working among a dedicated team of serious student reporters was resonant for many Orient alumni.
“I remember having an editor who really impressed upon me what a lovely mix it is to work with people who are smart, empathetic, kind, and diligent,” said Kimberly Launier ’98, a producer at CNN. Launier has also worked on documentary film and television productions with ABC News and HBO.
Evan Gershkovich ’14, former Orient contributor and current Russia-based reporter at The Wall Street Journal, added that his time at the Orient was not only characterized by camaraderie, but by professional development.
“I remember a friend of mine basically sitting me down and teaching me the mechanics of a news story, from the lede to the nut graf,” he said. “My friends at the Orient were very serious, driven people. They took what they did seriously, and they helped me learn more about what journalism truly is.”
Walder believes that it was his dedication to the Orient that solidified his plan to go into journalism. “It was a point in my sophomore year when I think I just realized that journalism had become the thing that I was the most passionate about,” he said. “A part of being part of the Orient was realizing that journalism was something I cared about quite a bit.”
“I remember having an editor who really impressed upon me what a lovely mix it is to work with people who are smart, empathetic, kind, and diligent.”
—Kimberly Launier ’98, CNN producer
“I was drawn to storytelling,” said Kary Antholis ’84, who contributed to the Orient and, after a long career at HBO, founded Crime Story Media. “I was interested in literature and took a lot of literature courses—I wanted to really understand storytelling through journalism, but also through literature.”
“In a way, I never really ended my honors project,” added Linda Kinstler ’13, who wrote a thesis for her English major. A former editor-in-chief of the Orient, she is now an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and elsewhere. She is also a PhD candidate in rhetoric at University of California–Berkeley.
While Orient alumni have gone on to become expert beat reporters, or to ascend the masthead at prominent national newspapers, many believe that the fundamentals they picked up at the newspaper gave them a head start when they began their first jobs.
“The Orient was a really foundational way for me to build skills. The fact that we were doing this paper every week, very much independently, forced me to learn,” Walder said. “When I left Bowdoin, there was plenty more to learn in the ‘real world,’ but I had built up skills from the Orient that were certainly helpful right away.”
“Questions about how you write a good lede or what's the theme—those basic questions are common throughout your career,” said James Hertling ’83, former Orient editor-in-chief and current senior editor at Bloomberg Opinion, based in London.
Craig Giammona '02, former Orient contributor and a current team leader at Bloomberg News, believes that practicing journalism at a liberal arts college amplified his preparedness for post-graduate life.
“When I think back on Bowdoin, it really taught me how to think critically, analyze information quickly, and express myself, both written and verbally, to different people,” he said. “Any good journalist is really an extension of a liberal arts education, where you have to be open-minded and curious about the world.”
Launier argues that working for the Orient in conjunction with taking academic classes and participating in extracurricular experiences spurred her to develop attributes that would have served her in many industries, but which hold a special significance in journalism.
“I think Bowdoin helped instill in me a level of confidence, and humility, to arrive at a place I’ve never been to before,” Launier said, adding, “in my opinion, there is nothing more important in journalism than curiosity.”
While these alumni are scattered across the country and the world, their commitment to truthful storytelling, their fond memories of their first journalism gig at the Orient, and their gratitude for their professional trajectories are largely consistent through their testimonials.
“I’ve been so lucky, and also worked incredibly hard, to have one of the most truly fun careers I ever could have imagined,” Launier said. “I’ve had the time of my life having adventures with unforgettable people and creatures. And it all started at Bowdoin!”