Mentor of the Month: Porus Cooper

Instead of a traditional paired mentor-mentee program this year, we are featuring monthly Q&A’s with mentors about how they broke into journalism, what their day is like, and any advice they have for young journalists. From there, students or anyone else (“mentees”) can email the mentors with any questions or set up informational interviews.

Our eighth Mentor of the Month is Porus Cooper, Assistant New Jersey Editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Ask him anything via poruscooper@hotmail.com.

Q: What is your current position/outlet?

I am currently Assistant New Jersey Editor at the The Philadelphia Inquirer, a position I have held for the last 4 years or so. I am nearing 30 years at the Inquirer.

Q: Did you always want to work in journalism? How did you break into the newspaper industry?

I became a journalist rather than a lawyer because my first job happened to be at a newspaper. I was also drawn to the law, and actually attended law school for a year. I “broke into the industry” quite by accident: I was attending law school when one of my childhood friends (who knew of my passion for journalism from my schooldays) noticed that the Times of India (I grew up in Bombay, India) had advertised for trainee journalists. I applied and was selected.

Q: Describe a typical day on the job.

The only two things typical of my work day is that something unexpected likely will happen, news-wise, and that it likely will be a long day!

Q: What is your best advice for young journalists? What’s your response to warnings like “Journalism is dead!” or “You’ll never make a living this way!”?

Journalism is not dead, though newspapers might be dying as we know them. The demand for smart journalists to report, explain, and analyze news events will die only when human curiosity dies, and that’s not likely to happen soon. The next generations of journalists likely will be filing their stories only for publication online, rather than also on paper.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a journalist? 

One of my favorite things at work, and something that has kept me going through workplace adversity, is the opportunity to learn new things every day.

Q: How do you spend your free time outside of the newsroom?

Much of my recreation, I must confess, seems like an extension of what I do at work: I read a lot (generally nonfiction, history, world affairs, political stuff).

Thanks for sharing your story, Porus! Read some of his favorite clips:

“In India, Slum May Get Housing” – The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Wawa Isn’t All In The Family” – The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Gender Gap At Law Firms” – The Philadelphia Inquirer

Any questions or comments about the mentorship program itself? Would you like to be featured as a Mentor of the Month too? Contact Meeri Kim, AAJA-Philly’s Mentorship Director, via meerinkim@gmail.com.

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