Jump to main content

Zvi Gutierrez sitting at a desk with a green screen behind her

Finding the Scoop: Zvi Gutierrez at UNC

En busca de la primicia: Zvi Gutiérrez en UNC

Journalism major breaks into Denver media market thanks to hands-on experience at UNC


Blue graduation cap.Take a deeper look at four other exceptional graduates who forged different paths and obstacles to reach their goals.

“The VO/SOT is in.”

“Are we ready to record preshow?”

“What’s going on with the Tricaster?”

The Bear Newsroom at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) is full of chatter asking about the show, brainstorming stories and working on the final touches before showtime. News jargon flows freely, and the place feels busy.

Most stories produced by Bear News, the Journalism program’s student-produced newscast, are focused on the UNC community, what goes on around campus and what students are up to.

 But the news team has also shifted their focus off campus, learning more about Greeley and the community while expanding their reporting to national news. Bear News is a full-fledged newsroom, and the hands-on experience of managing it this past year helped Journalism student and soon graduate, Zvi Gutierrez find her way to 9News in Denver.

Gutierrez is graduating from the Journalism program in May, and she already has a job lined up after graduation at one of the top TV news stations in Colorado. She’ll start her new position in June as the 9News producer-in-residence.

“You have to have a lot of self-motivation to do things in this program. And if you find that early on, you’ll be able to do great things.” 

– Zvi Gutierrez

“I want to see how different [the newsroom] is and their process behind it. Since I do most of the technical directing for Bear News this semester, I think that’d be fun to learn about,” said Gutierrez.

A Greeley native, Gutierrez graduated from University High School in 2020, during the pandemic and then enrolled at UNC.  But she didn’t start in the Journalism program. Initially, Gutierrez started out as a Graphic Design major, then switched to Forensic Science. She shook her head and said, “I can’t do Chemistry anymore.”

So, what brought her to the field of Journalism? Cue the track Toxic by Britney Spears. Gutierrez saw the Netflix documentary Britney vs Spears (2021), chronicling the rise of the #FreeBritney movement, Britney Spears’ 13-year-long conservatorship and the pop singer’s fight for freedom. It lit a spark.

“I’ve always liked true crime and stuff like that,” said Gutierrez. She was inspired by how she could incorporate photography, video work and editing into strong narratives communicating important events.

“It combines all my favorite interests into one.” And now, she’ll take those interests and new skills,to Denver. A producer-in-residence is an entry-level producer job, but Gutierrez will gain valuable experience staffing shows, writing and producing stories. She will essentially do what she does now at Bear News, but in a professional setting.

Shawn Montano is the Hansen Professional in Residence and assistant professor in the Journalism department. He teaches the class where students produce Bear News. During the spring 2024 semester, students produced the Bear News shows on Monday and Friday, creating the content and learning the ropes.

“Journalism, being inherently practical, demands a diverse skill set encompassing interviewing, researching, writing, editing and multimedia production. Through hands-on experience, students can not only hone these skills, but also apply them in real-world settings, refining their proficiency,” said Montano.

And Gutierrez mastered those skills, “[Shawn] was able to interact with us more … he showed us how to do camera and video work.” She gestured to the studio cameras in the Bear News studio. “How to work the Tricaster and operate the podcast booth basically all one on one.”

But she didn’t just spend her time learning in the studio, she also served as the editor for The Mirror, UNC’s student-run newspaper. Gutierrez wrote stories reflecting life on UNC’s campus and how world news applies to Bears, never shying away from difficult topics. Though she has written countless stories while at UNC, her story exploring abortion rights and resources in Colorado and surrounding states sticks in her mind.

“I want to stop the spread of misinformation, so giving people the actual accurate sources is something I’m passionate about. Even in my abortion article, I state that if you don't want to have an abortion, there are resources available to help parents or if you want to find an adoption agency,” said Gutierrez.

These deeply rooted journalistic thought processes are something Montano takes pride in instilling into his students.

“I am committed to nurturing critical thinking and problem-solving skills among students,” said Montano. “Journalism often demands quick decision-making, meticulous information verification, and adeptness in navigating unforeseen hurdles."

Solving problems is one of the many things Gutierrez does well. She finds sources, asks the right questions and scours the internet for documentation to back up every fact she writes. She’s chasing the world of investigative journalism, specifically crime reporting. However, Gutierrez isn’t caught up in the sensationalism that comes with reporting on crime, “I like learning about [crime] and understanding why it happens or how it happened … it interests me.” 

Digging for the facts and finding the answers, that’s her goal. Subjects like crime live in a gray area of journalism, but it’s about reporting the truth to the public. Right before sitting down to talk about graduation and her journey to UNC, Gutierrez was pouring over P. Diddy’s court documents, learning about the simultaneous raid at both of his homes. Her pulse on current events and knowledge to research effectively shows her passion for finding the facts and making them accessible for an audience.

As commencement approaches, Gutierrez is definitely planning to walk at the graduation ceremony, making up for her lackluster high school graduation during the pandemic, and then heading off to Denver to do more of what she loves – telling stories.

Maybe one day, she’ll work on a documentary that convinces someone else to pursue journalism, she said, “You have to have a lot of self-motivation to do things in this program. And if you find that early on, you’ll be able to do great things.” 

UNC is deeply committed to meeting students’ financial needs. In 2022-23, 87% of all UNC undergraduate students received some type of grant or scholarship aid that does not need to be repaid.  

Zvi Gutierrez received the following donor-funded scholarships and UNC institutional scholarships or other federal, state or grant aid. 

  • Matthew A. McConnell Memorial Scholarship
  • William F. Hartman Journalism Scholarship

More Stories