Alumni Spotlight: Ann Choi

Ann Choi: UT alumnus uses data reporting to uncover systematic behaviors and serve her community

Across four newsrooms around the country, Bloomberg data reporter Ann Choi has discovered and stuck by her passion for storytelling through numbers.

Ann Choi moved from South Korea to attend the University of Texas at Austin for her undergraduate and graduate degrees. The move made Choi feel like she lacked the intimate understanding of the structure of life in Texas and a network of sources she needed to be a traditional reporter. She felt at a disadvantage from her peers but knew she didn’t want to shy away from being a reporter. 

Choi found her strength in the journalism world through the “Reporting with Data” class she took with Professor McDonald as a graduate student in 2013.

“I was so excited that using data put me in a position where I can find original trends or outliers without having to attribute to a human source,” said Choi. “It didn't come from having an extensive network of sources, I was able to find that myself using records. So I was really hooked. Frankly, I felt empowered by this new set of tools.”

After college, Choi worked on various investigative teams at the Miami Herald, New York Newsday and The City before joining Bloomberg. With her specialty in data reporting, Choi said she’s grateful that she took the time to find her passion and develop it.

“Having identified what that passion is and being able to guard it…It’s truly sticking by what makes you happy and what sparks that inner passion, I think that’s going to keep you going,” Choi said.

Her experience with data reporting brought her to Newsday where she was the lead reporter on a three year undercover project about real estate agents discriminating against people of color in Long Island, New York. Choi described it as an ambitious project that led to state law being changed and real estate agents being held accountable for their actions. 

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She felt proud to be a part of a project that she hoped help raise awareness of ongoing discrimination and accredited their case to the data they gathered.

“Some people may think, you know, it's a thing of the past, but we were able to show in a systematic manner that these types of behaviors were very much alive and that people were being impacted,” Choi said.

Choi worked with Bloomberg’s investigative team for the past two and a half years before moving to work with the general data team to help find data for the broader newsroom. The team covers personal finance, real estate, billionaires, and other areas such as the media market, all using data. 

Although her focus is in the broader news, Choi still believes in the value of finding and developing a specialty within journalism for one’s success and happiness.

“I believe knowing what you are truly passionate about…I think it will pay off, not just in terms of being able to find a job, but you know, for your own sanity of nurturing that passion, because it is a hard field,” Choi said.