When Chris Quintana began attending the University of New Mexico, he had the goal of becoming the next great American author, not necessarily becoming a journalist.
But when he discovered that Ernest Hemingway, along with some of his other favorite authors, had been journalists at one point, he thought he would try it out.
Quintana went on to work at the Daily Lobo for four years and became editor-in-chief his final year. He graduated from UNM in 2012 with a degree in creative writing and a minor in journalism.
After he graduated, he worked at for about three and a half years, where he was a reporting fellow and then a journalist, covering crime, education, courts and other topics. He then covered UNM for for about one year. Today, he works as a breaking news reporter for the , which is based in Washington, D.C..
“My first step was with the Lobo,” Quintana said. “I may not be the same reporter or the same writer I was in college, but that’s where it started for me.”
Patrick Lohmann said he was not only the editor-in-chief of the Daily Lobo while Quintana was the culture editor, the two were also roommates and remain good friends today.
Lohmann said Quintana is able to “produce and produce and produce.”
Something Lohmann said stood out to him recently was after Quintana spent a week at the Chronicle of Higher Education writing stories and he went home and wrote , which was published in the Washington Post.
“I don’t know how someone can go the whole week writing and go home and say, ‘You know what I want to do? I want to start writing again.’ I’ve always been in awe of his ability to deliver on deadline,” Lohmann said.
Quintana said working at the Lobo helped him learn about journalistic skills, such as writing leads and finding sources for articles.
“If I hadn’t started journalism at the Lobo, I don’t know that I’d be in the same place,” he said.
Quintana said he advises anyone interested in pursuing journalism to read a lot of strong reporting and carry batteries in their backpack for their voice recorder. He also suggests that these individuals write the best possible version of what they are covering, which is something he said he still struggles with himself.
“For me, there was always a, ‘I wish that I had written this story better,’ or ‘I wish that I’d done more reporting,’ or, ‘I wish I hadn’t gotten scooped,’” Quintana said. “And that’s just all part of the process.”
He said the more you write, the better you will get — adding to just do the best job possible.
“There will be moments where you’re discouraged and where you have a correction and you get beaten out of an important story, and it will not feel good — but that’s part of the job, and if you can make it through one moment, you’ll find that the next is a really good story that is well-read or a great scoop that no one thought of,” he said.
Lohmann said Quintana should be extremely proud of where he is and his success is well-earned.
He described Quintana as a cultured individual and a good listener, adding that Quintana “seems to be very good at making lasting friendships with people. I think everyone would tell you that he looks out for them and isn’t afraid to meet people emotionally...He’s just a good guy and fun to have a drink with.”
Quintana said, for him, journalism serves as a means to inform others and spread that information as much as possible.
He said it is also a way to “de-mystify the world a little bit, try to make things a little bit easier to understand, because there’s a lot we don’t understand. Journalism can be a way of making that a little bit easier, especially in an era where it’s not really clear what is and isn’t true all of the time.”
Elizabeth Sanchez is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Beth_A_Sanchez.