A Day in the Life of Paola Rosa-Aquino


Paola Rosa-Aquino on a red sofa, with a small dog beside her.
Paola Rosa-Aquino Courtesy of Paola Rosa-Aquino


What I’m working on:

I seek to write compelling and untold science stories, especially about how the climate crisis that fuels powerful hurricanes shapes our world. Currently, I’m a fellow at Intelligencer (part of New York Magazine) covering all things science—from the environment, to space, to the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m also a founding member and communications lead of the Uproot Project, a network of environmental journalists of color. The idea was born after some colleagues and I discussed our frustration about the lack of representation of journalists of color in newsrooms covering marginalized communities that are hit first and the hardest by the climate crisis. We are dedicated to advancing the careers of environmental journalists of color by organizing panels, sharing resources, and, overall, building an opportunity pipeline to bring journalists into newsrooms and change how they tell environmental stories.

Where I work:

My living room couch. I was working remotely since before the pandemic, and I’ve become accustomed to working from my Brooklyn apartment. My dog Cece has become a permanent fixture of my workspace since January of last year.

Daily routine: 

I’m still finding my groove in terms of my daily routine, since I’m often balancing several tasks from my job and my freelance projects, as well as Uproot. It tends to look something like this: Wake up (or let my dog Cece wake me up to take her outside) around 7:00 a.m., after which I’ll scroll through the day’s news. By 8:00, I take a look at my to-do list and try to strategize when it is best to tackle some of the day’s tasks.

By 9:00, I am hitting the blog mines. I sign in on Slack and share with my colleagues any important, quicker news hit that could serve New York Magazine’s readers. Throughout the day, I’m jumping in and out of blog mode to pursue freelance assignments I also have in the works. The Uproot Project often has steering committee meetings at the end of the work day, where we discuss updates on the group as it’s taking shape.

Paola Rosa-Aquino on a red sofa, with a small dog beside her.
Paola Rosa-Aquino

Most productive part of my day:

I try to show up to my keyboard in the early morning, after I get back from walking my dog. There’s something about facing the bright light of the sun first thing in the morning that gets my creative juices flowing.

Most essential ritual or habit:

Sleeping. Making time to hang out with friends. FaceTime with my mom in Puerto Rico for updates on my dad’s chicken coop.

Favorite note-taking techniques/tools: 

In our house we pretty much use two types of notebooks: Legal pads and reporter’s notebooks. I’m also partial to Google Docs when it comes to getting everything online.

How I keep track of my to-do list:

Every morning, I write out my day’s to-do list on a legal pad. I even make little boxes and check them out once the task is completed. Whenever I get an idea for an article I want to write, I put a note in my phone’s Notes app.

Essential software/apps/productivity tools:

Most of my big reporting projects are organized in files I’ve dumped on Google Drive, but I’ll be the first to admit I’m somewhat app-phobic. I don’t like the thought of adding an additional step that I will do for a day or two at most, but will ultimately let go by the wayside.

Favorite time waster / procrastination habit:

Watching all seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race or Love Island—or any reality TV show, really. Scrolling through Twitter.

My reading habits:

Most days, I read the news and tweets, and I keep a growing list of books that I hope to get to one day. Earlier this year I told myself I would read at least one book a month. Alas, I have only read two: Amanda Montell’s Cultish and Ijeoma Oluo’s Mediocre. Both are great nonfiction books; I read very little fiction, but hope to change that soon.

Sleep schedule:

I’ve been going to bed at a reasonable hour as of late. By 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., I’m all tucked in. Alas, I’m one of those that struggles with waking up in the middle of the night, and I’ve found podcasts to be just the thing I need to be lulled to sleep once again.

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