An Independent School • Grades 5-12

by Eliot A. ’24

On Nov. 9, the Tatler staff had the great pleasure of hearing from Lakeside alumna and NBC reporter Isa Gutiérrez ’13. She shared with us the story of how she entered the world of journalism and offered advice to young writers and Lakeside students at large. While at Lakeside, she was heavily involved in clubs and student activism, especially regarding environmental sustainability. Since then, she has gone on to work at Univision Seattle, Geekwire, The Today Show, and NBCLX.

Much of Guitiérrez’s early work was done through internships in Seattle and New York. She says that internships were an important step in getting where she is today, but ultimately the impact of menial tasks like bringing breakfast sandwiches to her superiors on the course of her career pales in comparison to that of studying journalism. Coming out of high school, taking the risk of applying exclusively to colleges with strong journalism programs wasn’t an obvious choice for her. After four years of participation in Lakeside theatrical productions — including the eponymous part in the musical Oliver! — she had her heart set on Broadway. However, she recounted how this was one of several moments in her life when her position as the daughter of immigrants served to guide her decisions. In order to pursue something that would be seen as more “serious” and reliable, she applied her passions for travel, storytelling, and performance to a major in broadcast journalism at Northwestern University.

She also took the opportunity to major in Latino/Latina studies. In addition to this providing a way for her to connect her ethnic identity to her work, Guitiérrez also says that being a good journalist and a good storyteller relies on having a rich bevy of experiences to draw on yourself. She jokingly encourages aspiring publicists, “Get a life!”

Since then, Guitiérrez has worked as a writer, producer, and broadcast reporter in both big cities and smaller towns, where she has had more access to time on the air. All of these experiences have borne many interesting surprises. For example, she has learned about the importance of presentability on camera, the arduousness of video editing, and in the recent election season, she conducted a series of interviews with Latine voters, through which she learned that the Latine community is far from undivided. She expressed surprise at some of the interviewees being anti-immigration, and emphasized the importance of showing all sides of the debate.

While some others in the field have expressed concern about the apparent degradation of journalistic standards in recent years, Gutiérrez is optimistic. Although she would concede that there are a couple of journalists overstepping the boundaries of unbiased reporting on social media, she says that this challenging time has set the stage for difficult but necessary conversations about neutrality and the importance of calling things what they are. Furthermore, she says that the COVID-19 pandemic, although daunting, has presented younger journalists with a fantastic opportunity to step forward and take the lead on improving people’s engagement with the somewhat tedious Zoom format that much of broadcast journalism has recently been confined to. Guitiérrez has used her skills with technology and video editing to make her work stand out, especially in her work as a “storyteller” for NBCLX, a New York local news program of short documentary-style videos targeted towards millennial and Gen Z viewers.

Gutiérrez will soon be taking on a new role as a correspondent for NBC News, working all across the country for the next three years. The Tatler staff is very grateful for her time and wishes her the best with this and all future enterprises.