Talent and Tenacity

Journalist Farah Fleurima's life and career have taken unexpected twists. Now she's a homepage editor at "The New York Times'" South Korea bureau.
Written by: 
Jessica DeLeón
Farah Fleurima
Farah Fleurima ('97)

When Farah Fleurima ('97) arrived in South Korea in 2016, she had come to teach English and fulfill her dream of living abroad.

"Korea seemed like a modern, fun and wondrous place, and I thought I'd fit in well here," she says.

In fact, the alum, who majored in composition and language and minored in journalism, is now a homepage editor in The New York Times' Seoul office. As part of her duties, she tracks and updates global news from The Times' new bureau in one of the world's most booming cities, known for its vibrant pop culture scene and political climate.

"Landing a job in The New York Times' Seoul office has been a dream I never would've expected to happen upon while in Korea! I also got married here, so, overall, Korea has been good to me."

Fleurima's path has taken several unexpected turns. She originally wanted to pursue a career in medicine -- "but organic chemistry stopped me dead in my tracks!"   

She eventually landed in the journalism program, where her fondest memories include she and North Texas Daily staffers heading out to Fry Street after putting the week's paper to bed on Thursday nights. She also was accepted into the prestigious Dow Jones News Fund's internship program while she was at The Daily.

Fleurima has worked in journalism for more than 20 years, writing for The Detroit News, The Dallas Morning News, Rolling Stone and numerous websites, including her own (defunct) blog, TheDallasDiva.com.

Now as one of the producers of The Times' homepage, she keeps her eye on social media for chatter on everything from hard news -- such as Korea's approaching regional and congressional elections -- to its arts and culture scene, which has produced the Oscar-winning movie Parasite and the wildly popular band BTS.

Fleurima also writes about food/dining, movies and TV -- and received great feedback from women for her perspective about the Oscar slap and Black women's hair.

"Some women I'd never even met reached out to me on social media to say my article resonated with them and reflected how they felt about the Oscars incident," she says. "And, really, making readers feel and think is every writer's dream."

So, what advice would she give to students who want to work in international news? She says to stick to hard news by boosting business and government coverage skills, become a strong researcher and learn information data skills.

"Most of all: Believe in yourself. Working at The New York Times had always been a dream when I was in my 20s or 30s. Not that I'd given up on it, but I surely never thought I'd achieve it in my 40s, and in another country, to boot!" Fleurima, 48, says. "With talent and tenacity, you can achieve anything. UNT will prepare you for excellence, as it prepared me."