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About/Meet the Staff

Each year, the Society of Professional Journalists sponsors internships for bright, motivated and hard-working student/recent graduate journalists to cover SPJ’s national convention as the staff of The SPJ News.

Student Staff

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Rachel Andriacchi Twitter

Rachel Andriacchi, a senior at Simmons University in Boston, is pursuing studies in Integrated Media and Journalism. Holding the role of Op/Ed Editor at The Simmons Voice, Rachel’s dedication lies in crafting precise, captivating, and enlightening articles that revolve around Simmons students and Boston’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community. This summer, Rachel gained experience as a Studio Intern at GBH, Boston’s own public media organization, and is very excited to work as a student reporter at SPJ23!

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Francisco Avila Twitter

Francisco Avila is from the west side of Chicago. He played basketball and soccer through grammar school and continued playing soccer through his senior year in high school.

Avila has had a huge involvement in broadcasting during his time at DePauw University as a Sports Correspondent and Sports Anchor, D3TV News Television Station as a producer and board member, and WGRE 91.5 Radio Station as Soccer Commentator.

Avila enjoys all sports especially soccer which is why he’s so keen and eager to become a sports broadcaster to commentate and discuss all topics around soccer.

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Timia Cobb Twitter

Timia Cobb attends Syracuse University as a fellow with Syracuse.com. During her undergraduate program at Texas State University she served as News Editor at the University Star, the university’s student-run newspaper, Assistant Web Content Manager at the university’s radio station, KTSW 89.9, and worked for Texas State’s official newsroom as a digital content contributor.

She has interned as a reporting fellow with the Texas Tribune, worked as a Digital Content Editor for WAER and is currently a General Assignment Reporter with Syracuse.com. She hopes to one day cover housing for a digital or print publication and spends her free time scrolling social media and buying too many books.

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Laura De la Garza Garcia Twitter

Laura De la Garza Garcia (she/her/ella) hopes to amplify the voices of the Latino community. Having held various student government positions at California State University-Sacramento and witnessing the dearth of representation in leadership roles for people of color, she realized that journalism was her true calling.

De la Garza Garcia began writing for her college newspaper, The State Hornet, where she reported on news, sports and entertainment. While there, she revived the Spanish section of the paper.

She won first place at the Associated Collegiate Press National Fall convention in the social justice reporting category for a broadcast piece on the 2022 United Farm Workers March to the Capitol of California. She then went on to intern for The Sacramento Bee and KCRA 3, where she assisted translating stories and voiced news briefs in Spanish for the station’s sister channel, EstrellaTV.

De la Garza Garcia was born in Monterrey Nuevo Leon, Mexico and moved to Grand Ledge, Michigan at the age of 7. Later, her family relocated again, this time to Lathrop and then Manteca, Calif.

Finally, she settled in Sacramento, where she currently serves as a news producer for Univision 19. She hopes to become a bilingual anchor and reporter and continue advocating for more Latinos in news.

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Tianrui Huang Twitter

Tianrui Huang is a philosophy-economics double major at UC San Diego. As a senior staff member for the campus newspaper, the Guardian, she has also worked at LGBT metropolitan news Washington Blade, investigative paper Voice of San Diego and HK-based outlet RADII. Born and raised in Hunan, China, Tianrui aspires to further broaden her coverage horizons, delving into areas such as business policy and the Asian American communities.

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James (Jamie) Naylor Twitter

Jamie (James) Naylor a senior media studies major at Wright State University. They have been a student journalist for over three years writing and reporting on news, politics, social justice, and investigative work. They currently freelance and host the radio news show Deconstructing the American Dream on WWSU 106.9. When not in the newsroom you can find them outside climbing, kayaking, or hiking.

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Chinanuekpele Okoli Twitter

Chinanuekpele “Chinanu” Okoli is a student journalist at Boston University with a passion for telling the stories that matter. On campus, he writes for the Daily Free Press, reports for BUTV10, and is a co-programming director at WTBU, where he started Melanin Matters, BU’s Black radio show. Chinanu aims to amplify oppressed voices and promote more fair, ethical, and sustainable journalism practices.

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Tania Ortiz Twitter

Tania Ortiz is a magazine, news, and digital journalism graduate student Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Ortiz is a Newhouse Diversity News Fellow and a general assignment intern at Syracuse.com. She also is the 2023 Pulitzer Center Campus Consortium Reporting Fellow for Syracuse University, reporting on how feminist collectives in Mexico have become more involved in combatting feminicide and supporting victims’ families. Prior to Syracuse University, Ortiz studied communication at California State University at San Marcos. At CSUSM, she contributed to her campus’ independent student newspaper The Cougar Chronicle as the opinion editor, and eventually editor-in-chief.

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Uma Raja Twitter

Uma Raja is a journalism graduate student at the University of Florida and is pursuing her MFA in narrative nonfiction at the University of Georgia. Raja has been published in National Geographic for her article on the threatened Florida burrowing owl. She is a copywriter for Atrium Magazine, which focuses on Floridian narratives, and a writer for the fashion and lifestyle magazine Strike. She is passionate about wildlife reporting and travel journalism.

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Kristine Weller Twitter

Kristine Weller is a recent graduate from the University of Utah. She majored in communication with an emphasis on journalism and international studies and a focus on human rights.

Weller was previously the General Assignments reporter and newsroom intern for KUER, the NPR station in Salt Lake City.

Professional Mentors

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Bob Butler Twitter

Bob Butler is a radio news reporter who has covered every kind of story in the United States, including politics, business, disasters, and crime. He has also reported from Brazil, Northern Ireland, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, and Tanzania.

He won numerous awards for his work at KCBS Radio and received an individual national Edward R. Murrow Award in 2012 for his story on homeowners in New Orleans who were forced to pay off their mortgages following Hurricane Katrina.

Bob has a passion for training the next generation of journalists, he has taught at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University and has created journalism training projects around the world.

He was a multimedia journalist on the award-winning Chauncey Bailey Project and spent eight years on the board of the National Association of Black Journalists. He was President from 2013-2015.

He serves as the Broadcast Vice President on the SAG-AFTRA national board and has a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from San Francisco State University.

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Justin Hinton Twitter

Justin Hinton is an Emmy and Regional Murrow Award-winning journalist.

He joins the Good Morning Las Vegas team as an anchor.

Hinton previously worked at WJLA in Washington, D.C. where his coverage ranged from the January 6th attack on the Capitol to a clinical trial seeking a functional cure for HIV.

He had previous stops in Dallas and Beaumont, Texas as well as Asheville, NC where he was an anchor and reporter. A San Diego native, he’s no stranger to the Valley with several family members calling Las Vegas home for decades.

Hinton is also a proud member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

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Lorraine Longhi Twitter

Lorraine Longhi is an assistant city editor at the Las Vegas Review-Journal where she was previously a reporter on the education and health teams.

She joined the RJ in March 2022 after eight years reporting in Arizona, including at The Arizona Republic, where she covered city government, education and the impact of statewide decisions on local neighborhoods.

Lorraine is a native of Las Vegas and a graduate of Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication.