2017-2018 Luce Scholar

School of Journalism and Communication, Nanjing University

For her Luce year in China, Cassidy McDonald will work under the direction of Professor Zhuang Yongzhi, chair of the Department of Broadcasting, Film and Television at the School of Journalism and Communication at Nanjing University. The university is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning in China. The School of Journalism and Communication began as the Film and Broadcasting Special Program in 1936, the first of its kind in China. Professor Zhuang was senior producer of prominent investigative journalism programs at the Central China Television (CCTV) in Beijing until 2015, when he joined the university.  In addition to working with Professor Zhuang on projects on campus, Cassidy will gain exposure to China’s journalistic practices at provincial and national TV stations and Internet video production sites.

Cassidy will graduate in May 2017 from the University of Notre Dame with a business degree in Marketing and a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy. Ultimately, she plans to work as a reporter, telling the stories of marginalized voices as they interact with powerful policies and systems. In fall 2016, she traveled alongside columnist Nicholas Kristof to report on American poverty for the New York Times; she wrote about alternatives to incarceration, drug problems in Native American communities, and a billionaire who is quietly donating his fortune to Oklahoma’s social programs. At a summer internship with CBS News in New York City, she worked in the shooter-producer unit and spent many of her days “in the field,” booking interviews, shooting video, and solving last-minute problems. At an earlier internship with 60 Minutes in Washington D.C., she researched a variety of topics including Russian military capabilities, gun death statistics, and Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. She was its first intern to travel out of town for two shoots, coordinating interviews at FBI Headquarters and in Chicago, and independently producing a shoot in West Virginia. She began her career in Madison, Wisconsin as an intern at the local NBC affiliate, WMTV NBC15, and at Wisconsin’s second-largest newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal. At the State Journal, she reported on gang violence, higher education, and city government, and wrote seven front-page articles in her first month on the job.

At Notre Dame, she is editor-in-chief of the student newsmagazine, Scholastic, and manages a team of 24 (in addition to about 30 regular contributors) to produce the monthly glossy magazine. Recent issues have focused on the school’s sexual assault disciplinary procedures, campus-wide reactions to Donald Trump’s victory, and homelessness near campus. She also worked for Notre Dame’s sports broadcasting division, Fighting Irish Media, where she co-hosted an online, sports-highlight show and produced live softball broadcasts. She anchors during Notre Dame’s 24-hour webcast, “Notre Dame Day,” and is emcee of the school’s “Advisory Council” dinners, hosting dinner events for about 250 of the school’s top decision-makers. She first discovered her passion for journalism at age 17, when she got a job making videos at her local police department. This semester, Cassidy will raise money to fund a Liberian primary school class by (slowly) training for her first marathon. (She’s trying to convince her donors to contribute per minute, rather than per mile.)