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An Alumna With an Ear for News

Alumna Profile: Rachel Hinton

​​​​​When she was young, Rachel Hinton (CMN ’17) wanted to be a flutist in an orchestra. As the youngest chief political reporter in Chicago Sun-Times history, Hinton often hears the unharmonious sounds of political​
Rachel Hilton headshot
wrangling. But she remains dedicated to keeping citizens informed and engaged in the civic life of their​ communities.
“My two interests have always been music and writing,” Hinton says. “I’ve also always really cared about the news and paid attention to it. My parents are people who watch the morning news, evening news, the nightly news. I think it’s fair to say that since I was 14 or 15, I wanted to pursue (journalism) professionally.” 

When Hinton received a scholarship to attend DePaul, she was grateful to have some of her financial burden lifted. She also loved that she was in the mix of the city. “It wasn’t, ‘Oh, you need to graduate first before you can become the journalist you’d like to be.’ It was, ‘Oh, if you work hard (and) you want to get out and see the city around you, and learn more about it and write about it, you can.” 
Hinton entered DePaul as a political science major. “Even though I was really interested in political science and kept up with the courses, I really wanted to learn more about journalism. So, I started contributing to the ‘Nation & World’ section (of The DePaulia) my freshman year. Sophomore year I became a contributing writer and a copy editor.” She went on to become “Nation & World” editor and then, managing editor.  
In 2016, her series on rape on campus earned Hinton two awards from the Associated Collegiate Press. Her co-writer on the first story, Shelley Mesch, convinced a woman who had gone through DePaul’s student conduct hearing process to go public. “If I hadn’t done the first story, I’m not sure that I would have known about the second one, that the school (was) moving people accused of sexual assault from dorm to dorm and not telling people,” she says. 
While interning at The Reader, Chicago’s alternative weekly newspaper, during her senior year, Hinton started to “hound” Chris Fusco, then the Sun-Times’ managing editor, in the break room the two papers shared. He encouraged her to apply for an internship on the Sun-Times’ breaking news desk, and the rest is history. 
“It was overwhelming in a lot of ways because you’re up against the daily deadlines, and your editors want you to go here and do this and talk to these people, all before six o’clock, when my shift would end.” Nonetheless, she says, “I liked that things were coming at me quickly.” 
Her coverage of the controversial Cook County Sweetened Beverage Tax and subsequent lawsuit helped pave the way to her full-time job. “I think covering that really helped them feel like, ‘Oh, okay, she can cover the breaking news things.’” 
Hinton feels that her role a young woman of color invests her with some responsibility to help increase diversity in her field. “Sometimes alumni will reach out to me and ask me to talk about the field. I try to make time to do that because I want them to know that, yeah, this field is predominantly white, predominantly male, and it’s still at times a struggle to be heard and seen and respected. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t belong here.” 
  Originally published in Conversations (Winter 2022).