Bringing J-School innovation into the newsroom

SJMC Alum Natalie Yahr smiles at the camera
Natalie Yahr in her recording booth at the Capital Times newsroom in Madison/Stacy Forster/SJMC

Natalie Yahr isn’t just a reporter at the Cap Times in Madison.

Yahr, who graduated in December 2019, also produces a series of podcasts that have changed how the paper delivers news. We caught up with her when she was interviewing a colleague about a cover story he’d written. Click on this SoundCloud link to listen.


NARRATOR: It’s Tuesday morning, and the weekly print edition of Madison’s Capital Times newspaper is hitting the press. Cap Times reporter Natalie Yahr is getting ready for an interview.


NARRATOR: Natalie will sit down with Parker Schorr, who wrote the paper’s cover story that week, to talk about his reporting.

PARKER SCHORR: Is this my spot?

NATALIE YAHR: That’s your spot, and I’ll help you with your mic…

NARRATOR: It’s one of several podcasts Natalie regularly produces for the Cap Times. She also spends time reporting on communities across Madison.

YAHR: I’m lucky because my role gets to be kind of flexible and touch on lots of those different points. Because I get to do the podcast, and I also get to report.

NARRATOR: Until recently, Natalie was a graduate student in the professional master’s program at UW-Madison. The mix of courses she took here — in things like investigative reporting and journalism ethics — set her up to get hired by the Cap Times when she graduated in December 2019.

YAHR: With all the opportunities to get good clips, to practice the fact checking process in investigative reporting, for example, to talk through a better lead with my TA.

NARRATOR: Even the idea for a podcast with a cover story reporter came from a J-School magazine publishing project she did, when she interviewed fellow students about the stories they’d written. Have a listen:

YAHR: What do you hope someone is going to take away from reading your story?

ISAAC ALTER: No. 1, that their vote matters, this is obviously a magazine going out to…

YAHR: That was just seeing how to take something that you’ve already put effort into, you’ve already become knowledgeable about — so a story that a reporter has already worked hard on — and then just how to be able to talk about that and share that.

NARRATOR: With her J-School degree in hand, Natalie will keep helping the Cap Times innovate and find new ways to tell stories. Now it’s time to record that podcast.

YAHR: How do the questions look to you?

SCHORR: I think they look good! Yeah, maybe a little…