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TAM graduates typically pursue work in the private sector, in federal agencies, in think tanks and NGOs or on university campuses. One of our first-year Excel @ Carolina EURO-TAM students, Mackenzie Hansen, interviewed TAM alumni this fall. Please read some of her interviews with TAM graduates now working as journalists here. We are very proud of their accomplishments!

Katelyn Ferral ’14

Katelyn Ferral earned her M.A. in Political Science from the TransAtlantic Master’s program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Working as an Investigative Reporter for the Capital Times since 2015, she has covered issues of public affairs in policy and practice. Katelyn has reported extensively on the sexual abuses and misconduct in the United States military, serving as an O’Brien Fellow for Public Policy Reporting at Marquette University (where she earned her B.A. in journalism and political science) and publishing her investigative work.

Recently, Katelyn Ferral has reported on Ismael Ozanne, the Dane County candidate for District Attorney who was seeking to be re-elected in an uncontested election. Ozanne has been accused of exacerbating racial inequalities prevalent in Dane County despite running on a platform of reducing these disparities. Ferral’s investigation poses timely scrutiny of the role of DAs in perpetuating injustices in the criminal justice system.


Can you describe how the TAM program offered you an avenue to explore your occupational interests?

The most helpful thing for me while I was in the program was being able to meet with and stay in close contact with Sarah (the TAM program coordinator) and having her connect me to the alumni network was super helpful. At the time I did the program I wasn’t sure whether I would stay in journalism and if I did, I wasn’t sure what type of journalism I would end up doing. I was interested in learning more about the world of international affairs but also keeping in mind what journalism opportunities existed. I went to Prague and then I went to Bath. Throughout the whole process I felt like Sarah was really able to help me be aware of different internship opportunities and other alums who had been working in other professions related to journalism. She was really open to helping me tailor it to what my specific concerns or goals were versus a one-size-fits-all approach.

What experience or skill did you develop in the TAM program that is most applicable to your current job?

This is kind of a soft answer, but what was really valuable and edifying for me personally – and what carried over into my career – is the opportunity I had to be in classes and take seminars with people who had very different views than I did or came from really different places. I wasn’t practicing hard journalism skills really through the program, but I really personally enjoyed the opportunity to be the only American in a classroom with people from all over the world talking about politics. It really altered my worldview of how I fit in the world as an American, as a white American female, and what that means and how the US is perceived by other people and how we operate in the world. For me the effect of TAM is a little more implicit in that it really changed how I see myself and my role and it affected who I am as a person. I left the program and went back into my community understanding the relationship between local news and state news and how that fits into a bigger global picture, it’s all connected, increasingly so. Having the discussions and the relationships I formed with my classmates overseas was huge. In journalism it can at times be a subjective process in how you’re hired so it’s helpful to have connections. The experience has definitely given me something to talk about during interviews!

What are you reading these days? What’s the last movie you’ve watched?

I just took a road trip out West, camping and hiking out there, and I drove through South Dakota. I am reading a book now called The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West by Peter Cozzens.

What is the professional achievement or product that you’re most proud of?

I wrote about sexual assault in the National Guard and that really helped shine a light on the problem in Wisconsin and led to a regime change. The top commander there ended up resigning.

A story series I did a few years ago looked at how money was being taken away from a veterans’ nursing home in Wisconsin. That also led to a change in policy with how things are run there. In general, the body of work I am most interested in is looking into underreported and under scrutinized issues with how military members and veterans are treated, really trying to shine light on those issues to improve the systems of care that we have for them. There’s a lot of rhetoric about supporting the troops, but I think that there’s a lot of other issues that fall under the radar that affect veterans that deserve more scrutiny. I’m really passionate about doing work that highlights that and helps veterans.

What advice would you give to students studying TAM now?

I would say to take advantage of and recognize the really distinct opportunity to be in a global environment and have exposure to people who are really different from you and come from different parts of the world. You really can’t replicate that outside of TAM and it’s such a cool opportunity. Appreciate the seminars and the opportunities for robust discussion.

Based on your observations throughout the course of your career, how do you see the industry evolving for the next 5-10 years? Both as a result of COVID 19 and just organic change?

            I don’t know that I have a great answer for that; I know that it continues to be a really difficult industry to be honest. It’s hard to know what the industry is going to look like economically coming out of the pandemic. This has really altered things in a not great way. More and more, we have seen the growth of non-profit news entities and media outlets that are different from legacy newspaper chains. I think there’s going to be just two or three huge newspaper conglomerates, but especially for local and regional news it’s going to continue to be really challenging. As the national outlets like The New York Times and Washington Post get bigger that makes it harder for local outlets to really monetize. I think there will probably be more growth in non-profit models, but I really don’t know what that will look like. My advice to someone who is considering journalism is that it is important to think through why you want to be a full-time journalist and consider if it is something you are really passionate about. It’s a hard road. It’s always something you can try and if you don’t like it you can get out. One nice thing about TAM is if you study international affairs and have a specific focus, you can always pivot into a different type of industry. I think you have to have a lot of ambition and drive in order to pursue journalism in this day and age.

Twitter: @katelynferral

Portfolio website:

Work site:,-Bio&text=Katelyn%20Ferral%20is%20The%20Cap,and%20government%20in%20North%20Carolina.


Brian Swint ’02

Brian Swint is an Editor-At-Large for Bloomberg First Word based in London. He finished the TAM Program in 2002 and has since worked as a reporter, specializing in the energy industry and economics for Bloomberg LP for nearly a decade.  He is held his current position as an editor for almost 7 years.

His Twitter is @brianswint.

Can you describe how the TAM program offered you an avenue to explore your occupational interests?

When I started TAM in the autumn of 2001, I’d say that TAM was all about most of the things I was interested in, and that I had no idea what my occupational interests were. I had degrees in German and Philosophy and had already studied in Germany for two years; TAM gave me the opportunity to upgrade my degree and let me live in France and Germany. It was only after I started TAM that I began to think about journalism as a career, and that was just because I thought I should try to do something that let me travel and write. (You’ll have noticed that a lot of TAM is traveling and writing.) TAM gave me space to think about how to do that as well as access to great universities, mentors and connections. It was actually a friend of a TAM friend who tipped me off that Bloomberg was hiring, and I’ve been doing the job for 16 years now.

What experience or skill did you develop in the TAM program that is most applicable to your current job?

Academically, I still use the background from Professor John Stephens on welfare states almost every day while writing about European economics and politics.

TAM certainly isn’t journalism school, but the broad knowledge of social science is certainly useful. Beyond that, it taught me that good things happen when you’re persistent and ask for help.  For me, just putting me in Berlin was very helpful. I wasn’t competing against Columbia grads for journalism gigs, as I would have been doing if I lived in the States. I was one of a handful of people around who could do reporting in German and write about it in English. So TAM put me in the right place to do what I wanted.

What are you reading these days/ what is the last movie you’ve watched?

This question is a trap, I know it. Right now I’m reading a book written by an ex-colleague of mine at Bloomberg, Inge’s War by Svenja O’Donnell. Highly recommend it. I’m also reading This Is Your Brain On Music by Daniel Levitin and some historical fiction by Philip Kerr.

I can’t remember the last time I watched a whole movie, uninterrupted. It was probably a kid’s movie with my children.

What is the professional achievement or product of which you are most proud?

I was the main oil correspondent in London in 2010 when BP had the big spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I got some great stories out of it, it was very exciting. Separately, just last summer I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to cover a conference of central bankers, and I had breakfast with Fed Chair Jay Powell and an interview with the Bank of England governor. Also very exciting.

What advice would you give to students studying TAM now?

Figuring out your skills, what you’re good at, and what you enjoy doing is just as important as what you’re interested in. Ask yourself hard questions about yourself and you’ll be on your way to figuring out what to do next. Look for mentors — heard of anyone doing a job you think you might like? try to meet them for coffee, ask them questions, seek help from anywhere. It’ll pay off. Lots of times you don’t really want to do what you think you do, and the only way to find out is to try it.

Based on your observations throughout the course of your career, how do you see the industry evolving for the next 5-10 years? Both as a result of COVID 19 and just organic change?

Hmm. Oddly, I’d say journalism hasn’t been profoundly affected by COVID, it’s just made it a little bit harder to meet people. The industry will continue to deal with the big problems it’s faced for at least a decade — over-reliance on authority for information, the pursuit of balance at the expense of truth, and how to make money now that advertising-based revenue models have collapsed. There’s also establishing credibility in the age of fake news and social media, but I’d say that’s a bigger societal issue rather than a problem for journalism per se. In any case, none of these things will be easy to solve.

links to a few recent stories:

and some older ones:

Brian gave a talk for us this past fall. Please watch his discussion here:



Julia Bagg ’04

Julia Bagg works as a reporter for NBC6 South Florida and is a 2004 TAM graduate. During her time studying abroad in the program, she studied at Universidad Carlos III in Madrid. Julia lived in Madrid at the time of the 2004 train station bombing, and helped cover terrorism trials in the city for CNN International. She had Fulbright funding to undertake this research.

Julia’s impressive career and coverage of international events has led to other accolades; she has received honors from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and Radio and Television News Directors Association. We asked Julia to answer a few questions:

Can you describe how the TAM program offered you an avenue to explore your occupational interests?

TAM opened the door to invaluable opportunities – studying overseas, immersing myself in foreign language and culture, broadening my understanding of global politics, giving me a unique, competitive advantage as a journalist.

What experience or skill did you develop in the TAM program that is most applicable to your current job? 

Speaking and writing Spanish – which has landed me jobs I wouldn’t qualify for otherwise; understanding government relations – foreign and domestic – and policy impact on everyday life.

TAM grew my confidence to be able to take on challenging interviews and reporting assignments for my career.

What are you reading these days/ what is the last movie you’ve watched?

I’m about to dive into Genesis, the first book of the Bible. I’m also watching documentaries on racial justice: on the LA Riots and the life of writer James Baldwin.

What is the professional achievement or product of which you are most proud? 

I’m very proud to have co-founded Moms With A Mic with my sister and fellow NBC Miami reporter, Marissa Bagg. It’s a digital series that helps equip parents to tackle all kinds of family issues: from breastfeeding to potty training, to talking to kids about racism.

I covered the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia for NBC Miami and Telemundo – the best assignment of my career.

What advice would you give to students studying TAM now?   

Be adaptable! When it comes to job hunting, look for a need right now and see how you can meet it!

Based on your observations throughout the course of your career, how do you see the industry evolving for the next 5-10 years? Both as a result of COVID 19 and just organic change?

My journalism industry – like other fields – feels like it has transformed overnight. I expect we will learn to do more with less, reinvent work flows, and things will change in ways we haven’t even thought of yet.

Please find out more here:  – Moms with a Mic


Todd Buell ‘06

Todd is a Senior Correspondent at Law360 in Brussels. His specialty is tax law, and he used to work as an ECB Watcher at Market News in Frankfurt and DJN/WSJ.

Can you describe how the TAM program offered you an avenue to explore your occupational interests?

I did the TAM program in 2005 and 2006, in that academic year. At that time I was trying to develop a career path. I was sort of at a crossroads between do I want to go an academic route, do I want to go in more of a journalistic/writing route? I had applied to PhD programs and hadn’t gotten into any that I wanted. TAM seemed like something that I would enjoy, I would learn something from and also it gave an opportunity to live in Europe. I had done a tw- year teaching program in Austria in between my Bachelor’s degree and TAM, so I already had lived in a German-speaking country, already had some German. I do remember though, when I started TAM, I came back to the US – I was in Chapel Hill – there were just some small things about the US that I had really missed when I was abroad like bars with big televisions showing American sports or watching baseball on television. Things that seem small but were important to me. I remember I had to be almost dragged out of that to Germany in January of 2006, but when I got to Europe I was able to learn and really improve my German through the study program at the Humboldt University. That gave me some language skills that I’m still using today in my work as a journalist. I communicate with people in German or I have to read things, certainly on a weekly basis if not on a daily basis.

One professor whose class I remember was beneficial, and to an extent still is, was Professor Stephens’ class on different welfare states. It was something that I had thought a little bit about beforehand, but the way he talked about Catholic social model countries and Nordic welfare state countries and some of the downsides with countries that give women long periods of time off after having a child (long maternity leave), how that can actually prevent women from being hired – these are some of the themes I remember being discussed in the class in 2005. That, for me, was a great eye-opener of the diversity of Europe and the history of why countries do things in different ways. That’s a class that helped and is still with me. I even contacted him a couple of years ago for a story I was working on about Sweden because he’s an expert on Sweden. There was some question about Swedish parliamentary procedure that I wanted to know about, and he answered it. That was nice, to still have that TAM connection.

What experience or skill did you develop in the TAM program that is most applicable to your current job?

Off the top of my head, I would come back to the foreign language. Having to be in a German- speaking environment, having to read academic texts in German, having to explain your work in German, defending a thesis paper in German, is challenging, but that allowed my German language skills to grow exponentially. That is something I am still using today, I interviewed someone in German yesterday or the day before. That is definitely something that stays with me since TAM.

Are you bilingual at the moment, with English and German?

I would say I am. I say on my resumé, this might be underselling myself a little bit, that I have ‘non-native German fluency’ in the sense that there may be some idiomatic expressions or a common expression that a German who grew up in Germany would know from a childhood television program. Like the way a lot of Americans would know who Oscar the Grouch is, I might not know that because I didn’t grow up there. But when it comes to a pretty deep vocabulary, I think I have a certain mastery. I speak some French, I’m not sure I would say it’s at the same level as German, I struggle a little bit there, but I’m trying to improve it.

What are you reading these days? What’s the last movie you’ve watched?

I am reading three books right now, one is The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. I hadn’t even heard of this author until recently. I was really gripped by it, they’re these dark, mystery, detective stories set in New York in the 1970s and 1980s.

I’m also enjoying a book about how conservative Christians can live in a secular America. I wouldn’t call myself a conservative Christian, but it’s still a debate in which I’m interested. It’s a book called The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher.

I’m also reading a book in French – I always try to read a book in French – called Le Monde de Sophie, which translates to The World of Sophie/ Sophie’s World. It was originally written in Norweigen, so I’m reading the French translation of it.

I recently watched a movie in French with Louis de Funès. He was a famous comedic actor who died in the early 1980s. He would play these characters who were always bouncy and jumping around. When I look at him now I think that it’s too bad he’s not alive anymore because if there were a film with the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, he would have been a natural to play him.

I watched some film which in English may be Cabbage Soup, which is a comedy that has a certain poignancy about nostalgia and how you really can’t go back into a previous era even if you may feel more comfortable in it.

Books that I have read recently that I really enjoyed were Twilight of Democracy by Anne Applebaum, Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald, The World of Yesterday by Stefan Zweig, The Second Mountain by David Brooks, and The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton.

What is the professional achievement or product that you’re most proud of?

What comes to mind was one time I was at an event in Germany in 2013, I was there to report on what the president of the German Central Bank would say. He spoke (he really wasn’t that interesting if I remember correctly) but I still had to write something. So the next speaker gets up to the podium, and I think it would be rude to leave during his speech, so I sit through his speech. He is in the middle of his speech and compares proposed EU-banking legislation to the law that allowed the Nazis to seize power in Germany. I sat there, and I thought he didn’t just say that. I looked at his press-spokesman sitting right next to me and said “He didn’t just say that did he?” The press-spokesman said “Oh yes he did.” So I mentioned this to an editor who said that I have to write that story. I did, and the impact was remarkable. I was in the middle of Munich, Germany and within an hour or two I’m hearing that someone is asking the European Commission about this in Brussels, and the commissioner is condemning it. I was just like, wow.

I wrote something just yesterday that I’m quite proud of. It was about an event that there was limited publication about. I was able to find out what happened, that’s journalism in a nut-shell. If you can do that, then you’ve done your job well. Not every story is Watergate. But when you report something that someone else doesn’t want you to report, and you’re able to get more detail about it, then you’ve done your job.

In 2016, I reported on a decades-old rivalry between two “opera houses” (basically band clubs) on the Maltese island of Gozo. I spent countless hours talking to singers, organizers, conductors, police officers, historians, priests, anyone who knew anything about this. And finally, over six months, after I started researching, the article appeared on pg. 1 of The Wall Street Journal:

From the moment I heard of the story, I thought, this belongs on pg. 1, and I kept reporting and pushing until it did. I’m proud of that.

What advice would you give to students in TAM now?

Advice number one is, learn a foreign language. That opens so many doors, it doesn’t matter what language, just whatever one you want to learn. You’ll hear people saying, maybe less in Europe, you should learn Chinese, or Spanish or German. Learn the language you want to learn. Maybe for the familial connection or a romantic partner or just for the heck of it. If you want to learn a language that isn’t spoken by so many people, learn that because that could also become a great advantage for you. Especially in journalism, some story breaks in Finland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, somewhere with a language that maybe not so many from outside the country speak, you can say “Hey I speak —”.

Be open-minded, be curious about the world. If you’re a TAM student from the US, go to Europe and see how it is over here. Europe is big and diverse, Belgium is not the same as Italy, Germany is not the same as Portugal. There’s a lot of difference on this continent.

Based on your observations throughout the course of your career, how do you see the industry evolving for the next 5-10 years? Both as a result of COVID 19 and just organic change?

It’s hard to know with any certainty in what direction the media industry will go in the coming years. On the one hand, at least in the U.S., some trends are clearly discouraging. The media company Poynter has a list where they keep track of the number of layoffs in the industry since the pandemic started, and the list is pretty staggering. News outlets large and small are shedding staff. That is obviously discouraging.

Still, there is definitely reason for optimism. As I recall, major publications, such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, saw subscriber numbers rise after major events in recent years, such as the Brexit referendum in the U.K. and the election of Trump in the U.S. There is no doubt that there is an interest in the general population for researched, reasoned, and factual journalism. Also, and I have no data to back this up, but it’s possible that readers are becoming, or will become, increasingly comfortable paying for news, which would certainly help.

There is also now so much attention on lies and inaccuracies spread by Trump and other politicians that citizens, and investors too, may realize how essential a vibrant press is to the functioning of our democracy that they finance local news reporting.

There also may be a future in specialized, industry news (I should disclose that’s the sector where I work). It’s long, but I would recommend this article from a couple of years ago on that:

Twitter: @ToddBuell

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