From the Hilltop to a non-profit: Jacob Sanchez’s story


Courtesy of the Fort Worth Report

Sanchez unexpectedly shifted his focus, and has since found a passion working with nonprofits and making a difference through writing.

Jacob Sanchez, former Editor-in-Chief of Hilltop Views, has embodied the advice he gave in an interview with him on March 27: Get your work published and be open to working outside of your comfort zone.

Sanchez grew up in the West Texas town of Fort Stockton, where he worked at his high school’s newspaper. He began attending St. Edward’s University in 2012 and started writing for Hilltop Views.

He was editor-in-chief during his junior and senior years, where he implemented many of the procedures and standards the publication uses today. During his junior year, Hilltop Views published its first Special Issue, which covered how sexual assault impacts students.

Sanchez graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s in political science and a minor in journalism. In June of that year, he began working at the Temple Daily Telegram, where he covered topics impacting Belton and Bell County. During his time at the publication, he occasionally covered the education beat.

“When I first started out in journalism, I said ‘I don’t want to deal with the kids, I hate kids,’” Sanchez said. “But in Temple, there would be days when the education reporter was out, and I’d get some daily assignment to go out to the school and cover this, talk to a kid or two… and through that, I learned ‘oh, the kids aren’t that bad.’”

Sanchez said his experience with covering breaking news and publishing online with Hilltop Views helped prepare him for his daily work as a journalist. His five years in Temple allowed him to hone the skills he learned in school.

During the last months of his time at the Temple Daily Telegram, Sanchez saw an opening at a new non-profit publication in Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Report. Even though he had never been to Fort Worth before, Sanchez felt that he should apply because he believed in the publication’s mission statement and vision.

“Non-profit journalism really is the future of the industry,” Sanchez said. “For [the Fort Worth Report], we are online-only, all of our journalism is free and it’s made here locally by people who live here locally.”

Sanchez said he applied to the Fort Worth Report last February during the historic winter storms. While he was working from home, he received an email from the publisher asking to interview him. After speaking to the editor for over an hour on the phone, Sanchez was hired to be the education reporter and began working in March 2021.

For students ready to enter the journalism field, Sanchez offered two tips that have been critical to his success. Firstly, working at as many internships as possible will allow you to strengthen your skills and get your work published. Second, be comfortable with working outside of Austin.

“Don’t get hooked on staying in Austin,” he said. “There’s so many places out in Texas, or across the country if you want to go outside of Texas, with job openings.”

Sanchez also says that students should remember that other journalists have been in their position before.

“You’re not going to be paid the best, I’ve been there,” he said. “But I have learned so much  and it has helped me get this job… I would do it all over again.”

Sanchez’s award-winning journalism work can be found in the Temple Daily Telegram, the Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. Currently, he lives in Fort Worth with his pug, Buddy.