NBC Investigative Journalist Hannah Rappleye Visits SLHS’s Publication Class
On February 18th, 2021, Spring Lake High School’s publication class had the pleasure of getting to speak with Emmy Award-Winning NBC investigative journalist, Hannah Rappleye. Rappleye went to Grand Haven High School, where she joined, and eventually became the editor for, GHHS’ Buc’s Blade. Rappleye went to college in NYC where she also started a student newspaper at her college. She had been based at Rockefeller Center for 12 years before the upheaval of COVID-19. Before she joined NBC in investigative journalism, she worked as a freelancer in East Africa for 6 months. She eventually joined NBC where her work on the separation of families at the border and the Flint Water Crisis has made her a renowned journalist.
Rappleye shared with our publication class what a day in the life of a journalist looks like. She says, “My office floor is covered in reports and documents, and in those piles, you know, I’ve read every one of them. From the Medicaid reports to police reports and everything else. It’s all to help aid with the story I’m working on. A lot of my day can be reading and taking notes. It can be really tedious. My writing days can honestly be like pulling teeth. Also, you know, I love writing but at the same time every writer also kind of hates writing.”
Rappleye also shared with us what keeps her going - who inspires her. She says that Pulitzer Prize-Winning Katherine Boo is a huge inspiration to her, and was one of her original favorites. Rappleye also says that “The people I write about are also what keep me going. They’re so resilient and inspiring. There are so many incredible situations that I see and the fact that I can help make their voices heard and the fact that they trust me… They’re the only reason I do the work. It’s them.”
Rappleye also won an Emmy Award for her investigative work on the Flint Water Crisis with Rachel Maddow. On that, she says, “Flint, I mean, they’re my family, I recognize them, I see them. We should see them. NBC was kind of the first to really raise the alarm about the crisis on national news. I spent a lot of time on the ground in Michigan just getting to know people, I even got set up with a plumbing company to really see what it was like. I felt really proud that the people of Flint felt that we portrayed them in an accurate light.”
Overall, Rappleye was an amazing insight for SLHS’s publication to give them a light into what a day in the life of a journalist and investigative reporter is like. Her story and success are awe-inspiring, and it was an amazing experience for the class to have.