Nicole Santa Cruz: Journalism’s Prime Product

Journalism has been designed to create an individual who dedicates their work to the service of the people. A journalist should be filled with enough empathy and honor, to shine light to the heartaches citizens endure as well as commit to telling the truth from the stories their sources tell them.  A prime product of this ideology, is LA Times reporter, Nicole Santa Cruz.

UnknownNicole currently works as a homicide reporter for the LA Times, as she covers different stories of tragedies and recent crime occurring in the neighborhoods surrounding the city of Los Angeles.

Nicole did not start at the top, but just like the people she covers in her stories, she suffered through heartache and long nights of unrest before gaining her title as a reliable asset to the LA Times.

In a moving piece written in 2009, Nicole shines light into her humble beginnings.

“While my friends were at football games, or strolling around the mall,  I was in a room that wasn’t my own, working on school assignments”

Her battle began in her childhood, being raised in a one parent household, and fighting to stay out of poverty. Like many others who went through hardships, she persevered to change her story. Nicole set a goal and made sure to not let anything stop her; beginning the building blocks of what would make her an impactful reporter.

Her determination to change her life was noticed quickly when she arrived at the University of Arizona.  Although she started her semester as a pre-med student, the offer to work for the school newspaper changed her mind quickly. The role of a journalist played well into her interests. Nicole states how she enjoyed more working with people than spending the long hours in the library alone as a pre-med student. Her time at the newspaper not only contributed to changing her career path, but enforced her attributes and molded her to the driven reporter LA recognizes today.

As advisor of the Arizona Daily Wildcat, Mark Woodhams worked closely with Nicole and was able to watch her progress into a professional journalist. As she continued her education with the newspaper, she put in the hours that helped her to becoming editor and chief.  Woodhams only had great things to say regarding Nicole’s performance and hard work.

“Nicole Santa Cruz is a poised  intelligent and enterprising student. Her skill set is strong; she is deadlined-tested, her ego is in check; she is coachable and personable. “

Her time as a journalist however did not stop there. She continued to gain experience when she applied for an internship in the summer of 2008 at the Oregonian.  For three months she gained more experience in the newsroom covering anything from community projects to homeless shelters for families. As advice to any young journalist, Nicole believes in the benefits of gaining as much experience in the newsroom as possible, adding, “I learned the most in my on-the-job experience, first as a college newspaper reporter, then in newsrooms like The Oregonian and The Bulletin in Bend, Ore.” 

Finally, Nicole was then accepted into the Chips Quinn Scholar program in February of 2009. The Chips Quinn Scholars program was founded in 1991 to recruit, train and provide scholarship assistance to minority college students interested in pursuing careers in journalism. Her supervisor, Karen Catone glows as she discusses her time spent working with Nicole.

“I have nothing but good things to say about Nicole.  You picked a wonderful young journalist to profile.”

Catone reports that the program saw Nicole’s potential with her experience for the school newspaper stating, “As the editor-in-chief of her campus newspaper for three consecutive semesters and overseeing editorial content for a staff of more than 100 people, Nicole was a very strong candidate for our program.”

Finally, in June of 2009, Nicole Santa Cruz made it to the LA Times. She left the history of struggling to get out of her poverty into becoming  a well respected homicide reporter for the LA Times. With great intentions, Nicole explains her attitude towards the topic she covers,

“I enjoy telling the stories of people who have been victims of violence because I sincerely believe society should know about the causes and the lives that have been lost.”

Her published  articles have impacted the lives of so many readers as the stories of those she covers are released to the public.  For example, she recalls when she wrote the story of the murder of a woman’s son.

“Favorite moment was when I ran into a mother of a victim at an event about a year after I wrote about her son…A year later, his mother thanked me for persevering and continuing to tell the story.”

Nicole explains how she enjoys going to the households of the people whom she’s covering, and having the opportunity to engage in their lives, understanding where they come from.  She speaks about how her motivation as a homicide reporter is uncovering.  “..the everyday neighborhood violence that doesn’t usually make the newspaper because of its nature  — it’s not out of the ordinary, yet it impacts thousands of lives each year in the United States.”

Nicole Santa Cruz continues to write and dedicate her career to reporting on the problems occurring in our everyday neighborhoods. Her legacy she says, is to be known,

“As a compassionate person who believes in the power of good storytelling.”



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