While other 12-year-olds worried about gossip or how to dress, Emily Zentner paid attention to politics. She spent long hours with her friends discussing the presidential election in 2008, when she was just a seventh grader.
Unlike most people her age, Zentner watched the entire inauguration ceremony of President Obama at home — by herself. Zentner’s passion for politics and affinity for writing made journalism a natural fit. This summer, she is enrolled in professional news writing course through the National Student Leadership Conference at American University.
Since a young age, Zentner said she was greatly influenced by her mother’s political bent.
“[My] mom was always ranting her liberal agenda in [my] ear,” Zentner said.
Her journalism influence came largely from her former creative writing and journalism teacher, Mrs. Page, who recommended her to the AU program and introduced her to the school’s magazine. Zentner is the business manager and opinion editor of the magazine, Pulse. Being the opinion editor is no easy task, she said, as many students have differing opinions. But as Zentner said, “Controversy breeds the best writing.”
Still, Zentner argues that “the object is not to inflame the public, but to make them trust you.” To gain this trust, Zentner dedicates several hours to her job at the magazine. She said she takes about three days to assemble roughly eight pages of a single publication of Pulse.
Inspired by Time, The Atlantic, as well as CNN, Zentner said she dreams of being in the news industry. She knows that will take work.
“People don’t understand that it is hard to be a journalist,” she said, “that the nature of the profession itself irritates others.”
But she is ready for the challenge.