“Women Who Work” is a series that celebrates the millennial woman who is breaking barriers for women, excelling in business, contributing to her community and industry in a big way, and setting the example for other women to go out in the world and kick-ass. If you or someone you know fits this description, feel free to reach out for a feature!
While you may know her for her funny tweets and online presence, Madalyn Mendoza is killing it in the journalism world as a reporter for MySA. Read below to find out more about Maddy Skye, and our latest “Woman Who Works.”
Madalyn Skye Mendoza
University of the Incarnate Word
Awards & Recognition:
Dean’s List all four years, graduated Magna Cum Laude
Traveling, antique shopping, going to museums, trying out new restaurants and bars, going dancing (not well)
Describe your life in a tweet (140 characters):
Weekday go-getter, weekend taco-getter, sometimes a jet-setter
What’s your perfect taco?
This is a tough one. If we’re breaking it down into categories:
Breakfast taco: I’ll go with my true blue, one that I’ve been eating since I was little, which is a bean and cheese with rice.
Street/mini tacos: I need carne asada from my favorite spot, La Imagen.
What woman do you look up to most in media and why?
Oprah has been — and forever will be — my icon. A highlight of my day growing up was watching her show with my mom or grandma. She personifies who I want to be when I speak to people. Her questions are thought-provoking and her approach is sincere. Her life aside from journalism is also inspiring.
Landing an entry-level gig in a newsroom is no easy task. What made you want to go into journalism, and how’d you get your start in reporting?
When I was little, my mom would always ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Mind you, I was probably only 3, but that’s the kind of mom I have. She’s headstrong, so she raised us to have our goals set early. I’d list off an array of occupations: doctor, writer, painter, Barbie. These conversations usually happened over dinner, which is a very important time in our family. TVs are off, phone calls aren’t answered. We talk. I credit those childhood dinners for my communication skills. Meeting people, hearing their stories and sharing them (if they want me to) makes my heart pitter patter. I’m also terrifyingly great at sleuthing the internet and being a spy – Harriet the Spy was my favorite movie as a kid, so that may have inspired that. So, a future in journalism was clear early on. I got the ball moving in high school, when I was an anchor for Providence’s Provet TV, the student broadcasting network. As an adult, my “why” was cemented. I knew I had a love for people and a passion keeping my community informed. With those two paired together, I continued sharpening my journalism knowledge at UIW, where I was anchor for UIWTV. I then interned for college life-centered magazines, Spurs blogs and at KSAT 12. After college, I started my “big girl job” on the digital team at KENS 5.
Have you ever had a huge journalism fail? What’d you learn from the situation?
I typically consider well-versed in Spurs-related material. I can usually drop names, stats and championship facts on command. I was humbled at one point when writing about former Spur, David West. I was quickly called out for referring to him as “George West.” I don’t know what led to me calling him that, but I still pause and think about his name before speaking or writing about him. I learned to always, always, always fact-check, even if you feel confident about a subject.
What moment are you proudest of in your career? What would you consider a “lifetime achievement?”
I’ve always been proud of my career in itself, but I think the first story I wrote that created a lasting impact was my coverage of the David Molak story. David was an Alamo Heights High School student, who his family said committed suicide because of bullying. Prior to breaking the story, I didn’t have much experience in writing about subjects of this nature. I was worried I didn’t have what it took and I wanted to cover this with extreme care. My work on this story pushed me past my comfort zone and taught me a new level of reporting, considering I was working with minors and their families during a very tense and confusing time. My story and follow up pieces, as well as national coverage, put more eyes on the issue until it was eventually spearheaded by State Sen. Jose Menéndez. Menendez authored a bill, known as “David’s Law,” which was signed last summer. The law provides temporary injunctions on social media accounts that are bullying or harassing students and requires schools to notify parents on both sides of what’s going on.
I’ve only been in the business for a handful of years, but I think sharing the story and spreading awareness is something I’m proud of.
I usually gauge my success on what my 10-year-old self would think of me. She’d be so proud. At this point in my life, I’d say that’s my “lifetime achievement.” But, there’s more to come, of course.
What advice would you offer to any woman interested in pursuing a career in journalism?
To be stubborn about your goals, flexible about your methods, especially since it’s a tough field. I had no intention of being a writer, my experience was minimal. My only focus was on broadcast journalism, I wanted to be on TV and there was no telling me any different. To my initial dismay, I didn’t land a job in front of a camera. I did, however, make enough connections that helped me earn a position with mySA. As with most life changes, I was completely unsure about my decision and frankly, I didn’t think I was the right fit. Three years later, I’m in love with my job and my career interests are completely different. Moral of the story: don’t X-out other avenues and network as much as possible, even if that means interning for free. The connections you make have the potential of being more valuable than a paycheck.
You’ve got a huge twitter following through both your reporting and your witty/real presence on the site. With 63% of millennials getting their news from social media sites, where do you see the direction of news reporting heading? Do you ever see a point where on-air reporting will be obsolete?
As a millennial myself, I rarely get my news from TV unless it’s something like a State of the Union, an emergency weather event or I’m stuck in a waiting room. I am constantly cued into the news cycle and it’s always through social media. I always promote my stories through Twitter, Facebook and sometimes Instagram. I think that’s where news is heading. I don’t think on-air reporting will be obsolete, but I think the way TV news is disseminated will have to roll with the changes.
I feel like I’m seeing more TV news outlets reaching really far to connect with their audience on social media and it falls flat because it’s not genuine. I’m not saying I’m a social media guru, but I always think about myself as a consumer before I post anything. If I’m getting my news from social media, it’s probably because I’m too busy to watch TV. Being punchy and concise is key. It’s a balancing act of sharing, connecting and being true to your voice, but it’s not rocket science.
Recently, E! News anchor and veteran, Catt Sadler left the network after she found she was grossly underpaid compared to her similarly situated male-counterpart. What would you like to see done to ensure the wage gap is bridged for women in news and media?
Speaking about salaries can be considered faux pas, I think that leads to a problem. Most women don’t know where they stand because there’s a big secret about how much who makes. I think a little transparency would go a long way.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
In 5 years, I’ll be 30, which is scary to think about. I’ve always wanted to venture outside of San Antonio and force myself out of my comfort zone. I’ve been rethinking that recently. I know this city like the back of my hand and I feel that I have a responsibility. My readers depend on me for a certain niche of news and I take pride in that. So, the plan for 5 years down the road is up in the air. However, I hope that I’m a mom and wife in 10 years. As important as my career is to me, I do eventually want my own family. I’ve also been thinking about law school, owning my own media company, possibly opening a restaurant or going to graduate school to earn a masters degree in history. I’m probably sounding like my 3-year-old self who wanted to be Barbie, an astronaut and still make it home in time for dinner, but I know that I have the willpower to balance it all.