Two talented young women will become the new core staff of Billy Penn’s newsroom.
Michaela Winberg started as a general assignment reporter at the beginning of January, but her byline has been on the site for much longer. She was an editorial intern over the summer of 2017, and contributed freelance articles throughout last fall.
A native of North Jersey, Michaela came to Philly to attend Temple University. She’ll graduate this May with a degree in journalism and the accomplishment of having been editor of The Temple News throughout her senior year. She’s also interned at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Bellingham Herald, as well as at a local pop-up podcast called Story Shuffle.
Mónica Zorrilla’s first official day as a general assignment reporter will be March 5. She comes to Billy Penn from Al Día, where she was a full-time editorial staff writer and content producer, and before that, an editorial intern. She also interned at Televisa Internacional and with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Barcelona.
School is also what brought Mónica to Philly. A native of Miami, she moved north to attend Haverford, where she majored in English with minors in psychology and Spanish.
Here are a few tidbits to help you get to know our new staffers:
Favorite thing about Philly, if you had to pick one?
Michaela: Communities! I love diving into different neighborhoods — by attending local meetings or talking to community leaders — and learning about the issues and the passion people have to come together and talk about it and fix it.
Mónica: Its underrated, gritty charm. In any given corner of Philadelphia, you encounter an enchanting, eclectic mix. Greased poles, horse-drawn carriage rides, sex toy shops, warm reunion hugs, pungent whiskey shots clinking from bar counters, a Ben Franklin cosplayer, the smell of street arepas and falafel platters wafting in the air, all in one city. That has to be magic.
Hobbies? What you do outside of work?
Michaela: Listen to podcasts, watch trashy reality TV, cuddle with my cat.
Mónica: Get my sweat on at City Fitness in Logan Square, ask people if I can pet their dogs in Old City, listen to an audiobook while strolling in Rittenhouse, eat way too much dim sum with friends in Chinatown, and dance anywhere in the city with a rad playlist.
Issue or topic you’re excited to cover this year?
Michaela: Addiction and recovery. It’s long been one of the most stigmatized medical problems (even by journalists), and recovery is just now getting the attention it deserves as a legit possibility for people.
Mónica: 1) There are loads of organizations continually doing good, newsworthy service in Philadelphia that don’t get nearly enough credit or recognition for it. 2) Philly is on the “up-and-up,” but what exactly does that mean? Who is that progress benefitting? Who is being pushed out? What changes are in the works?