Brothers and DI alumni find success in news media, marketing

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From the UI to Minneapolis and Washington, two brothers and DI alumni prosper.

By Isabella Rosario

isabella-rosario@uiowa.edu

Brothers Sam and Joe Lane, four years apart in age, took different career paths after graduating from the University of Iowa. Sam is a reporter and producer at PBS “NewsHour” in Washington. Joe is an associate insight strategist at Colle McVoy, a communication-media company in Minneapolis. Both said they got their start at The Daily Iowan.

Working at the DI

Sam started working for the DI before he even started classes at UI. After being hired in the summer as a Metro (now called “News”) reporter, he attended Camp Wapsie, in which he and other students practiced mock reporting.

Right out of his time in the woods, Sam started writing for the DI, starting out as a Metro reporter, then a Metro editor, and finally managing editor. Some of his first beats were the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the courts system, and the state Board of Regents.

He also covered politics over the years, including the 2011 GOP presidential debate in Des Moines. One particularly contentious exchange that Sam wrote about involved Newt Gingrich, who drew criticism from Mitt Romney and Ron Paul for calling Palestinians “an invented people.”

Sam said being given the opportunity to cover the events was an incredible experience. “When presidential candidates would come to Iowa, you would go and sort of be shoulder-to-shoulder with reporters from around the country, major national news organizations,” he said.

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When Joe started school at the UI right after Sam graduated in 2013, he went to visit then-Publisher Bill Casey and ran into some students who recognized him as Sam’s brother.

“Then I got a Facebook message from Sam a couple weeks later saying they want you to come in and write for the paper,” he said.

Joe wrote for the Opinions section the next four years, eventually joining the Editorial Board. From then on, he generally wrote a column and contributed to an editorial per week on everything from public-school funding to local elections. One of his favorite columns was in response to President Trump slashing the size of national parks, which was brazenly titled, “Keep your tiny hands off my national parks.”

Two successful career paths

After graduating from the University of Iowa in 2013, Sam started as a desk assistant and soon became a production assistant at PBS “NewsHour” in Washington. In this role, he pulled tapes and looked for footage to accompany day-of tape pieces, started writing some, and then shifted into breaking news.

Sam now works as a general-assignment producer, doing a little bit of everything — shooting footage, editing, and writing scripts.

“The more sound your preparation is at the beginning, the easier it is to balance everything in the field,” he said. “Once you’ve set everything up and the cameras are rolling, one of the most important things is just to be listening to what the subject is saying. If you are listening closely enough, you’ll know what follow-up questions to ask.”

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Sam has covered the stock market, Internet privacy, national disasters, among other stories. Recently, he traveled to Arizona to interview the state’s poet laureate, Alberto Ríos, who writes about the complexities of the Mexican border. In December, Sam went to Costa Rica and covered a story on sea-turtle egg poaching.

“We went down and covered this group that is trying to combat that, and they’re using 3-D printed sea-turtle eggs and putting decoy trackers inside them so they can track the poachers’ routes,” he said.

Joe began working at Colle McVoy shortly after graduating in 2017. The full-service agency’s list of clients includes big brands Caribou Coffee, Invisalign, and Target. Joe said his interest in advertising was sparked by his interest in storytelling, which is part of why he wrote for the DI.

“The reason I like combining business with creativity is I think business has this incredible power to be an agent for change, even more than governments or nonprofits, sometimes,” he said. “It’s cool to be a part of an organization that helps move brands that have that vision.”

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As an associate insight strategist, Joe works in brand planning. Keeping a pulse on culture and trends, he collaborates in building a story through data that are applicable to a brand’s marketing strategy. He said he likes that his role connects account management, sales, and creativity in asking strategic questions.

“Invisalign has a number of markets,” he said. “It also has multiple audiences — they need to communicate to orthodontists and moms, who will be those purchase drivers. So it’s a lot of looking at, What is that relationship between parents and children? How is Gen Z interacting with products like medical devices, and what does childhood look like today?”

Joe noted some similarity between his work at the DI and what he does now.

“Submitting pitches every Sunday [at the DI], I would spend the week or the weekend looking at news stories and trying to get the pulse on what’s going on. That’s kind of how I start every day now — going through things like the Times, and Vox, and even some less hard-hitting news places like BuzzFeed and Complex, and looking at them and saying, What’s going on that feels relevant?” he said.

Sam says he owes much of his success to his experience at the DI.

“The DI has given me everything. Without having that experience for four years, there’s zero chance I’d be where I am today,” he said. “A lot of people who try to break into journalism don’t necessarily get the chance to be so hands-on and g o out and cover things that professional reporters are covering alongside them. Having to learn on their own, making mistakes, learning on the fly, it’s an incredible experience.”

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