Nicole Wetsman ’12 returned to KO on Monday, April 2, to address journalism students, KO News staff, faculty, and alumni at the 26th Annual Baird Journalism Dinner. Ms. Wetsman is a health and science reporter based in New York.
She works on topics ranging from pediatric medicine to seal brain surgery, and her articles have appeared in publications such as Popular Science, National Geographic, Wired, Vice, and more.
Ms. Wetsman has a Masters degree in science, health, and environmental reporting from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Bowdoin College. While she was at Bowdoin, she served as editor-in-chief of the campus weekly news, the Bowdoin Orient, during her senior year.
When she was at KO, she worked as a reporter, associate features editor, and features editor for the KO News. She was also the president of the Forensic Union and co-captain of the varsity soccer team.
The Baird Journalism dinner annually hosts a KO graduate, working in the field of journalism. The dinner was established by KO News alumni in 1992 to honor Warren Baird, who served as the faculty advisor of the Kingswood Oxford News from 1967 to 1989.
Every year, the faculty advisor of the KO News reaches out to a KO alum involved in the field of journalism. This is English teacher Catherine Schieffelin’s first year as the faculty advisor of the KO News, so this was a very new experience. Ms. Schieffelin wanted to bring in Ms. Wetsman. “I knew Nicole [when she attended KO] because I actually taught her in Symposium,” said Ms. Schieffelin.
Ms. Wetsman had also attended last year’s Baird Journalism Dinner where Jonathan Blitzer ’03 spoke because she was in town visiting her parents, and Ms. Schieffelin and Ms. Wetsman had discussed the possibility of Ms. Wetsman speaking at the dinner. This year, Ms. Schieffelin emailed Ms. Wetsman in February and asked her to come speak at the dinner.
Ms. Wetsman covered a variety of topics during the dinner. She spoke about how she came to be a freelancer. “I had worked at other newspaper companies, but they weren’t right for me,” said Ms. Wetsman. She said that she likes freelancing because she can cover a variety of topics.
She even talked about the fake news and clickbait that is occurring in the U.S. “I found it interesting when Ms. Wetsman was talking about fake news,” sophomore Jamie Amell said, “and she said that if a piece of news makes you really happy or really sad, it would be smart to double check the facts.”
Ms. Wetsman said that her most challenging article was an article she wrote for Vice Sports about the annual screening of athletes for heart problems. She had to talk to a mother that had lost her young son from cardiac arrest. As Ms. Wetsman did more research about screening for heart problems, she realized that annual screenings are not practical.
After the article was published, Ms. Wetsman received an email from the mom that she had talked to saying that the mom was really happy that the article was fair and accurate.
Ms. Schieffelin said that the dinner was pretty seamless because she had Mr. Kyff there to help her plan out the steps to organizing the dinner. She also said that the Buildings and Grounds crew were very helpful because they set up the library, and the kitchen made a delicious dinner.
Senior Gabrielle Ruban said that she was inspired to see how a fellow KO News alum could pursue journalism beyond high school.