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Born a journalist
June 11, 2024

By Catholic Partnership Schools Healthy Courier reporters | As a young child, Arlene Notoro Morgan constantly asked questions. On Friday nights, she and her best friend even played “newspaper reporter.”

“I was born a journalist,” says Ms. Morgan, who was a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer for more than 30 years.

“I have always been very curious about how the world ticks,” she says. “It was my desire to make the world better through the information we give people. And hopefully they will act on it and become better citizens and better human beings.”

Ms. Morgan’s career has always involved journalism. After retiring from The Inquirer, she joined the faculty at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Now she is an assistant dean for the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University.

“The role of the journalist is to get out in the community and to report about it,” she says. They “give people information they need to make decisions.”

Journalists don’t only identify problems, she says, but they also seek stories about people who are solving them. “You just don’t just state the problem and leave somebody hopeless, but go and find out if there are solutions in other places,” she says.

She has always been committed to giving a voice to people who don’t usually see themselves in the media but have something important to say.

One of the ways she has tried to accomplish that goal is by hiring people with diverse backgrounds. When she first joined The Inquirer in 1969, “there were only seven women and one African-American man,” Ms. Morgan says.

She “looked all over the place to make sure we were really bringing people in that would bring a perspective that the white reporters didn’t have,” she says. “That’s what you have to do when you are running a news organization … so that everybody in your audience can see themselves” in the media.

When she started out, women reporters mostly covered topics such as fashion and weddings.

“That was not for me,” she says. “I loved politics and stories about people who were really doing things in the community.”

So that’s what she did.

She wrote about discrimination, education, crime, healthcare, and art, among many other topics.

Ms. Morgan sees herself now as an editor rather than a reporter. A reporter gathers news and information. An editor works with a reporter to develop an article and ensure that it is well-presented and accurate.

“I like to be an editor because I can point people in a direction that they may not normally think about,” she says. 

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Since 2003, Healthy NewsWorks has been empowering elementary and middle school students to become researchers, writers, and confident communicators who advance health understanding and literacy through their factual publications and digital media.