An avid reader of The Wall Street Journal, Alessandra Bocchi was excited to apply for The Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism while working as a freelance reporter last year. She was drawn to the opportunity because she knew the Journal to be one of the few national newspapers to provide balanced viewpoints – a contrast from other mainstream newspapers. She admired how the editorial contributors and columnists could make their case in a substantiated and convincing way, regardless of whether readers would agree or disagree.
While writing abroad on an array of international issues amid the pandemic, the Italian native was selected from a competitive field of applicants for her strong reporting background of in-depth reporting. Covering a wide range of topics and cultures, Bocchi was recognized as a hardworking journalist who provided an authentic view to readers.
Halfway through her nine-month internship with the Journal’s Opinion page, TFAS caught up with Bocchi this month as she shared an inside look at the Fellowship and the impact it has had on her career.
Established in 2018, the Fellowship was created in honor and memory of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Joseph Rago, a former editorial board member at The Wall Street Journal who passed away at the age of 34 in 2017. One young journalist is selected each year through an application process that is judged by senior editors at the Journal, senior leaders at The Fund for American Studies and the family of Joe Rago.
Bocchi is the third annual recipient of this honor, joining former Fellows Elliot Kaufman, Rago ’18, and Matthew Taylor King, Rago ’19, in the path of continuing Joe’s legacy.
In addition to her admiration for the Journal, Bocchi says she was interested in applying after researching the legacy of Joseph Rago.
“I was very impressed by his work, and I thought the memorial Fellowship was something great that TFAS, his parents and the Journal organized to commemorate him and to make his memory live among us,” she said.
It makes you feel very much part of a program that is not just about work, but it’s about commemorating a great writer and journalist.” – Alessandra Bocchi, 2020 Rago Fellow
Throughout the Fellowship, Alessandra has grown closer to Joe’s parents, Paul and Nancy, and enjoys sending them monthly reports on her work at the Journal and catching up with them about life in general.
“It makes you feel very much part of a program that is not just about work, but it’s about commemorating a great writer and journalist,” Bocchi said. “They are wonderful people, and I’m thankful to have this relationship with them.”
During her short time at The Wall Street Journal, Bocchi has already contributed to the Opinion section both behind the scenes and on the frontlines through her own publications. She is most proud of the articles that she has written, especially the ones concerning the destruction of historical statues – including the statue of Christopher Columbus in New York City and of Roman emperors on the Brown University campus.
In addition to bylining her own pieces, Bocchi also enjoys editing other writers’ works and learning about the fact-checking process, which she believes is helping her become a better writer. As a former freelance writer, Bocchi is grateful for the opportunity to learn the importance of teamwork and believes that this Fellowship allows for personal growth from reading and editing pieces by other contributors.
“I was a freelancer before, so I never knew the workings inside a newspaper and how different people have to work together in a team to get a newspaper published,” she said. “I learned a lot about teamwork and collaborating with your colleagues to achieve the best results you can.”
With only a few months remaining in her Fellowship, Bocchi will continue to work alongside the editorial team, which she says has impacted her development as a professional journalist. Bocchi has developed valuable skills by working closely with her editor and deputy editor, gaining insightful feedback on how she can improve.
Bocchi is grateful for this opportunity to grow and challenge herself as a rising star in journalism, and she thanks TFAS supporters for encouraging and believing in her work.
“I want to sincerely thank them for their support because it enables young journalists such as myself to drive their careers and do something that they truly believe in,” she said.