When Yvonne Latty interviewed for a job at Villanova last spring, she shone above all the rest. Rather than just lecture the journalism practices class, she spoke of her experiences as a reporter, covering a wide range of topics, including fires and murders. The smiling Philadelphia Daily News reporter was as exciting and interesting as her stories. Some things never change. Now a communication professor at Villanova, Latty remains the same lively and energetic person she had been a year earlier.
Although Latty graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in film and television, she always had a passion for journalism. She has fond memories of reading the night edition of the New York Daily News with her father every evening in their Harlem home.
However, she never truly contemplated going into the field until after she worked as a fashion photographer in Europe and as a screenwriter. It was then that Latty realized journalism was her true calling.
“[As a journalist], I wanted to be a voice for the people who cannot speak for themselves,” Latty said.
As a result, she returned to NYU in 1990 to pursue a master’s degree in journalism. During this time, she interned at New York Newsday where she gained the experience to launch what would become a very successful career.
For the past 11 years, Latty has worked as a news reporter for the Philadelphia Daily News.
Winner of a National Association of Black Journalists award, she has covered a variety of subjects, including urban issues, education and obituaries. When asked to choose a story that has had a lasting impact on her, a particular one stands out in her mind.
Latty once covered a murder in which a man shot and killed his girlfriend in the Philadelphia area, then drove her body to Florida. The victim’s sister wanted to fight for justice; however, she was a poor woman who had no voice in the matter. After connecting with the sister while covering the story, Latty wanted to lend a helping hand and voice to fight for the victim and her family.
“As a black and hispanic woman, I’ve always felt it was important to use my talents to tell the stories of the people in the inner city,” Latty said.
As a result, she led a campaign to bring the suspect back to Philadelphia where he was convicted of murder. Through her compelling words, she brought justice and comfort to a grieving sister. Her experience covering this story along with others proves the importance of journalism. Consequently, its significance is the focus of her class at Villanova.
Functioning like a newsroom rather than a classroom, Latty’s journalism practices course provides her students with the much-needed experience of a real news office. The class is currently working on a public relations campaign, writing press releases for an art gallery in Center City.
Also, with guest speakers from the Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer, students get the opportunity to gain knowledge and hear stories from accomplished journalists. While the class is a great experience for the students, no one enjoys it more than Latty. “Teaching at ‘Nova is a pleasure, not a job,” she said.
Her work does not stop with her professions in journalism and teaching. Latty’s book, “We Were There: Voices of African-American Veterans from World War II to the War in Iraq,” hits bookstores April 1. The book tells stories of the heroic men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting our country and freedoms, yet sometimes go unrecognized.
Ambitious and intelligent, Latty performs work that provides her readers with not only knowledge but also emotion. She believes in everything she does and knows that her words affect the lives of her audience, whether on the front cover of a newspaper, the blackboard of a classroom, or the pages of a book.
For more information on her book, visit the web site at www.wewerethere.com.