Deputy news editor keeps moving

Puneet Bsanti aims to change diversity in news

GABRIELLE FELICIANO, Evergreen life editor

Puneet Bsanti said her love for journalism began when she was 10 years old and watching the news with her dad.

Thirteen years later, Bsanti is deputy news editor at the Daily Evergreen and about to graduate WSU as a multimedia journalism and English double major. She is also a recipient of the Northwest Journalists of Color Scholarship and won a Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her coverage of the University of Idaho killings.

“I love finding different news stories and finding different angles on news stories and writing them,” Bsanti said. “And, I mean, I’ve been covering so much news ever since I’ve been with the Daily Evergreen … I just love [news] because it’s just different topics that need to be heard.”

Bsanti has been writing since she was in second grade. She loves writing because it is an escape from real life, into your own world and characters, Bsanti said.

At first, Bsanti attended WSU solely as an English major. She would eventually become co-president of the English Club, a student representative of the English department’s undergraduate studies committee and a writing consultant at the Writing Center, as well as executive poetry editor at WSU’s literary journal LandEscapes.

It was not until she saw WSU’s journalism program that Bsanti decided to major in multimedia journalism as well. With news, she said she can lose herself in writing about current events.

“If there’s something that’s going on with a small business or with the city, I like to kind of read about it or maybe just report on it,” Bsanti said. “And there’s so many things that you can write about with news.”

Bsanti said she is passionate about covering people of color, culture and missing person cases, and she recently published a freelance article in the Tacoma News Tribune about a missing indigenous Tacoma woman.

Raised in a predominantly white town, Bsanti said others gave her mom, a Punjabi immigrant who did not know how to speak English that well, a hard time.

Bsanti said this made her more empathetic toward women like her mom who cannot speak another language and has made her want to tell their stories through her reporting.

“I care about featuring the people who’ve had it hard like [my mom] in this country making it feel like they don’t belong here … I’ve interviewed so many women like my mom who I just, you know, I feel for them,” Bsanti said. “But not feeling bad for them, more like I feel how strong they are and I just want to keep talking about them.”

Bsanti said there needs to be more journalists of color.

“There needs to be diversity in newsrooms because there needs to be not just one person who speaks up and says, ‘What about this story? What about the people of color? What about minorities?’” Bsanti said. “It needs to be multiple people, not just one.”

Bsanti’s partner Jonathan Andrews has known her for four years and dated her for three of those years.

Andrews said that as a journalist, Bsanti wants to change the stories today’s newsrooms tell and introduce more diversity in newsrooms in order to do so.

“I feel like [her writing] might have started as just an interest and a form of expression, but I know now through journalism she wants to help other people whose voices might not be more commonly heard,” Andrews said. “She wants to help them have their voices heard and expressed.”

Benjamin Shors is one of Bsanti’s professors at WSU’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. Shors said Bsanti knows how to combine personal stories with bigger sociopolitical issues — a difficult thing to do in news stories. 

“She just thinks different than most other students,” Shors said. “She has different perspectives, different ideas. She thinks critically about issues in a way that’s hard for a lot of young students to address … She has the potential to be a really influential young journalist in the coming years, in the state of Washington and beyond.”

Besides the Daily Evergreen, Bsanti has published work in the Spokesman-Review, Tacoma News Tribune and FāVS News, which she freelances for. She has also interned at AsAmNews.

After graduation, Bsanti is studying abroad in Greece and Bulgaria through the Murrow Global Expeditions program, then interning at the Bellingham Herald. She plans to write a book over the summer and eventually become a published author.

Bsanti aims to someday work for bigger news outlets like the Seattle Times, Washington Post or New York Times. But for now, she wants to keep reporting and find her beat.

“I want to keep moving because I feel like with life, you get too comfortable that you just stay,” Bsanti said. “But for me, I just want to keep moving. I just want to show not only others but myself that I can do it. I can do anything that I set my sights on.”