TNL alumna spotlight: Mary Crego Peterson

In celebration of TNL’s 25th anniversary, we will highlight past editors of this newspaper over a span of the next several issues. What has changed at TNL since they worked here? Where are they now? Are they still writing for newspapers or did they run away with the circus?

We dived right in with Mary Crego Peterson, who still looks out for her fellow TNLers all the way from Seattle.

Photo courtesy of Mary Crego Peterson.
Mary Crego Peterson

TNL: When did you work at TNL and what was your position?
Peterson: I worked there from 1995 until I graduated with a degree in journalism and communications in 1997. I started as the business manager. I was a news editor, and I also did layout and design, then I was the editor when I left.

What values did you learn while working at TNL?
I learned a lot about good writing — about conveying information that was interesting and clear to people.

Are there any articles that stood out for you from the time you worked at TNL?
One of the editorials I wrote as the editor was about Martin Luther King Day, because it was one of the first years it was celebrated in the state. The newspaper won an Alaska Press Club award for editorial writing that year.

We also wrote about a male cheerleader who was cheering for the Seawolves. I didn’t write it but I printed the article. I got death threats as the editor of the newspaper over that article, which I found pretty surprising and pretty memorable.

What advice do you have for today’s journalists at TNL?
Take the opportunity to be in charge of your own publication. Be fearless in your reporting and the types of things that you cover. There are really no restrictions other than your own skills and your creativity. Part of being involved in a student paper is pushing those bounds as much as you can.

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What are your hopes for TNL’s future?
I was interested to see that it continues to be one of the largest newspapers in the state. What I hope for is that you continue to hold yourselves in the standard that we did. We didn’t think of ourselves as a student newspaper we were a newspaper.

What are you up to in life today?
After I graduated, I moved to Seattle where I went to law school. Now I’m a lawyer in private practice and I am a partner at the law firm of Hills Clark Martin and Peterson. I’m married, and I have an 8-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter.

Do you ever miss writing for the paper?
I write a lot for my job as a lawyer, but it’s not the same. One of the jokes that lawyers make is that legal writing is like writing without the adjectives. So you take all that interesting stuff out and what’s left is legal writing. So I miss that kind of writing a lot.

Anything else you’d like to add for students to know about TNL?
I’m a hiring partner at my firm, and whenever I review resumes and see that someone has worked at a student publication I always think of that as an excellent credential to have, because it was so helpful to me in terms of my learning and growth as a student.

Several issues of The Northern Light from 1997 when UAA alumna Mary Crego Peterson was editor. Photo by Ashley Snyder.
Several issues of The Northern Light from 1997 when UAA alumna Mary Crego Peterson was editor. Photo by Ashley Snyder.