Maddie Mott: Tell me about your journalism career.

Cheryl Hatch: That is a long and winding road, my journalism career. So my family was living in Saudi Arabia and I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.  I bought my first camera, started photographing everything. And then I did some research and I found the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Lewis Hine. And I said, Oh, there you go. So it's a combination of art and doing something that would make a difference, because Lewis Hine's work helped change the child labor laws in America. So I went to school, knowing that I wanted to be a photojournalist, but also that I wanted to work internationally. So I took a second degree in French, and I went to Oregon State [University]. What I really, really wanted to do was go overseas and work internationally. So after I finished university, I got on a plane and went to Cairo. I knew a lot about ancient Egypt and when I walked off the plane, I realized I knew practically nothing about contemporary Egypt. I worked there as a contract photographer for Reuters. And then I started working for an agency in Paris, and I started covering conflict in the Middle East and Africa. So I have a chunk of my journalism career overseas and covering conflict. And I came back to the States. It's always [been] a back and forth, kind of career. I then worked at some small newspapers in Oregon and Florida. I went back overseas. I went to graduate school. I had been embedded in Afghanistan and I got really sick and when I came through that, I went into academia for a number of years. I love teaching. I love teaching the next generation of journalists and [it] really got me fired up again about the importance of journalism and that whole idea of journalism in the public interest, journalism serving communities in a democracy. So that's my journalism career right up till the starting here.

Mott: So you've worked locally, you've worked internationally – is there one story in particular that you've covered or an interview you've done that affected you the most?

Hatch: So my mind went first to Eritrea, which is in East Africa. Eritrea was a story that I wanted to do for a really long time, because it was [a place where] women, at one point, didn't have a lot of possibilities. Marriages were frequently arranged, education options were limited. But during this 30-year war for liberation, [women] were called up in the battle [and] they fought. [Women] led tanks, they ran hospitals, they did everything. And then when they came back to society, it was mixed results. So, the question [I had] was, does anything good ever come out of war? And I thought Eritrea said yes and no – because yes, the women did earn a lot of options for themselves to run businesses, to choose who they marry to. But then Eritrea didn't go so well. The same guy is still in power all these years later. And then on the flip side, a smaller scale, local local [story] – I worked as a writer in residence in Condon and Fossil [Oregon]. One of the young women I had met [there], her dad had had an accident with a tractor and nearly died. And so I told this very beautiful small story about this teenage woman who had had a fight with her dad that morning, and also happened to be an EMT and was right on the scene when her dad was wounded. And her whole family and the community rallied around this guy and how he lived and how he was able to quite literally get back on his feet, see his daughter get married. I love that story just as much. So it's really just people. And again, it tends to go toward stories about women getting to have what they want.

Mott: What are you up to when you're not on the air reporting?

Hatch: I’m totally analog, I have a little bandaged-together shortwave radio in my house. I have no television. I like to read. I belong to a couple of book clubs. I love the ocean. So I swim year round even now. There's a number of us who swim in Potter Cove over in Jamestown. I'm like, I live on an island. I should be in the water as much as possible. So I also like to hang out with my friends, bake, travel when I can. Yeah, write postcards and letters. Oh, yes. I am about as old-fashioned in everything you can imagine. I like to write letters. I like to write postcards. I love stamps. I get special stamps for everybody. 

Mott: You have a long history with Aquidneck Island, can you tell me a little bit about it?

Hatch: Aquidneck Island is the childhood home of my parents and their parents and their parents, and so on. My mom and dad grew up about a mile from each other…they married in Trinity Church. My dad was career military. So we moved 20-plus times before I graduated from high school, but we would always come back to the island for summers or Christmas. And I really loved this place. It's the one place that I thought, “Oh, this is home.” I got to a point in my life where I was like, you need to pick a spot. And so Rhode Island came to mind, Aquidneck Island came to mind. And the house that my mom and her mom grew up in was an option. And so I moved back here about four and a half years ago and [began] gently restoring and caretaking this small, old, family home and doing my very best to create a place called home.

Click here to read Cheryl's stories, and click here to read more stories from our Newport Bureau.