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TNH alumni series: Ali Jurta

Ali Jurta | Class of ’93 | Editor-in-Chief

Ali Jurta arrived to the University of New Hampshire campus in 1989 knowing exactly what she wanted to do. For the next four years, she would rise through The New Hampshire (TNH) ranks and become the editor-in-chief, while also becoming the first UNH intern at the Concord Monitor; she knew journalism and writing were her future. What she did not know, however, was how much the field would change in her 25 years of work. 

Jurta began her work at TNH in the second semester of her freshman year. Back then, there were no smartphones, laptops, sophisticated printers, the Internet, social media or any of the endless technologies currently used in newsrooms. There were ancient computers and floppy disks, and writers at the paper had to personally come in and write their stories, no email. Suffice to say, times were different.

When Jurta worked at the Monitor in the mid ‘90s, she’d be going to interview someone and have to pull over to the side of the road to ask directions or reference a map. If she needed background information on a subject, she was out of luck because there was no internet in the newsroom.

Ali (bottom left) alongisde the TNH editorial crew of 1990.

Jurta remarked that she would bring doughnuts to police departments for policemen and city councils to see what the word was. Later, that would help her when covering a shooting at city hall. She said that the personal connections these days aren’t as popular.

“It was only through that trust, because you didn’t have Facebook. You didn’t have any of those ways to share things, it was more intimate. It was certainly a currency of trust. That’s how I scooped up the number one story I did,” Jurta said. 

During her time at the university, TNH was in the basement of the Memorial Union Building (MUB). When editors were bored, tired, or getting frustrated with each other, they’d go to the bowling alley which was located in the MUB where the current game room is. Jurta said that when she visited Dave Zamansky recently, she was devastated to see the bowling lanes gone. UNH and the world itself have certainly changed quite a bit in the last 25 years.

The threats facing the news media by President Donald Trump has Jurta believing newspapers are going to make a comeback. When she started at the Concord Monitor, newspapers began their long decline, but with threats to the internet by the new White House administration, Jurta thinks we’ll need new ways for communication, which might mean going back to print journalism.

“[Journalism is] more f—ing important than ever. Especially trying to balance it out. To be that balance of power in the face of what’s going on,” Jurta said.

Jurta is leaving in a few weeks for Barcelona where she intends to work on her book, which she’s calling a work of “true fiction.” After years of developing her own online marketing consultancy agency, she said that she’s up for a vacation, and joked that she might never come back because of Trump. Jurta said that from the time she first started as a staff writer at TNH to where she is now, journalism has always maintained a level of importance to her, but it might be more significant now than ever.

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