The time Meagan Cuthill (Media Studies class of 2014) spent at USF is not only immortalized through her work, but also on the Media Studies homepage. A slightly blurry photo of Meagan (pronounced “Mee-gan”) directing another student on camera greets interested students to the department’s website. “That was during either a USFtv shoot or a narrative film class shoot with Danny Plotnick,” says Meagan. “I wear my hair the same, I have very similar clothing even about a decade later. I just find it so funny that I’m still up there.”
After graduating in 2014, Meagan knew it would be too competitive to find a job in San Francisco, so she went back to her hometown of Bellevue, WA for the summer to relax and unwind. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Portland with her former college roommate.
Meagan got a job at NewsBeat Social, a news startup where she began working as a news writer and quickly took on the role of social media coordinator. She was soon promoted to assignment editor, and ended her two-year tenure there as newsroom data manager. After leaving NewsBeat, Meagan worked as a digital producer at KPTV Fox 12 for four years. While there, she covered historic wildfires, Oregon’s response to COVID-19, and an accident on Highway 101 involving a hagfish truck. During her time at Fox 12, she was part of the team awarded “Best Digital Presence” from The Associated Press Television and Radio Association for markets 1-50.
In the fall of 2021, Meagan started her latest gig at Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), first as digital producer and then as deputy digital editor, which she describes as her most professionally fulfilling job thus far.
“As you go on in your career, at least for me, it really just kind of transforms with the roles that you’re in, and the type of media outlet that you’re working for,” she says. If she could impart any advice to recent Media Studies grads it would be: “You don’t have to find the perfect position right away. If you do, like kudos, that’s awesome for you. But you can figure out something that you’re still going to have learning opportunities and takeaways from, because there is such a vast landscape of storytelling.”
At OPB, Meagan communicates with different editorial teams, comes up with strategies for story distribution, and still finds time to write and produce. Her work has covered a broad range of topics, including: Oregon sports, rent increases in Portland, and where in Oregon the corn dog was invented. Meagan’s latest effort, which will premiere this June, is for OPB’s program, “Superabundant,” a video newsletter that explores the cuisine, craft, and local delicacies of the Pacific Northwest.
As an accomplished broadcast journalist, Meagan credits her time at USF for helping her prepare for life after graduation.“I feel like there’s not necessarily a traditional route for the people who fall into media studies, or more specifically, journalism. The people I work with come through such a range of backgrounds – educationally, professionally. Media kind of brings people together for a common purpose and passion.”
Meagan entered USF undeclared. “I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll figure out what I want to do with some general education requirements and go from there,” she says. She spent her freshman year knocking out gen eds, and declared a Media Studies and Politics double major her sophomore year. “USF did me double well,” she says.
Not to be satisfied with the course load of two majors, Meagan also had three internships while at USF. Her first was at CBS Radio’s Alice 97.3 morning show. Waking up early to help at the show prepped her for later gigs. “I have been such an early riser in my professional life, since news is at all hours of the day, and the shifts that I’ve taken in my career have predominantly been before the crack of dawn.”
Meagan also interned in the victim advocacy department for the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. She worked closely with social workers there, who did mediation with victims of crime.
In her junior year, Meagan studied abroad in Norway, interning for Skeiv Ungdom, an organization that promotes queer youth advocacy. “I really enjoyed my experience doing a semester abroad through the university, because it just had such easy partner programs to look up,” she says. “And it cost the same as attending USF; all my financial aid applied.”
Along with her internships, Meagan was a lifeguard at Koret and the news producer for USFtv. “I look back and I’m like, ‘How did I do it? How did I have the energy?’”
One of Meagan’s first projects at USFtv was interviewing visiting professor Clarence B. Jones. An American lawyer and close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jones briefly taught at USF, and later founded USF’s Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice with Professor Jonathan Greenberg. “That one stands out as a really special opportunity to speak with someone who has been so involved in history being right there on campus,” Meagan says. “USFtv definitely geared me towards what I wanted to pursue after graduation, which was to go specifically into television journalism.”
By being exposed to opportunities like these, Meagan believes her time at USF gave her a secret skill that has come in handy in all the work she has done since. “I do think that USF prepares Media Studies graduates to be confident enough, but also humble too, like, ‘I know I don’t know everything, but I’m always learning.’ And that’s also an element of journalism, where you have to always have the mindset that you are going to be learning, because information is continuous.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Savannah Dewberry is a journalism student at the University of San Francisco. In addition to MediaZine, she is the Chief of Copy for the SF Foghorn, and an intern for the SF Times. She is originally from the East Bay, and enjoys textile crafting.