Rose Minutaglio poses for a photo in front of a People magazine display
Anecdotally Speaking
Rose Minutaglio ’15 talks about the importance of radical empathy in her storytelling and how one Trinity professor propelled her into a successful career in journalism

Journalism is in the DNA of Rose Minutaglio ’15, senior editor of Features & Special Projects at ELLE magazine.

Born in Dallas and raised in Austin, she calls her father, Bill, her hero and her inspiration for becoming a writer. He began his career at the Abilene Reporter-News, worked at the three largest Texas newspapers (The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, and San Antonio Express-News), wrote for national magazines, and authored several books.

When she arrived at Trinity University, Minutaglio was originally on a pre-law track and was envisioning a career in international law before she started taking communication classes.

“With my dad being a writer, that was always in the back of my mind, but what really changed everything for me is I took Sammye Johnson’s magazine writing class. She’s my mentor and the other hero in my life. I credit where I am today and everything I’ve accomplished to her. She was the best teacher I’ve ever had, one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and the one who helped me realize my own potential and really believe in myself,” Minutaglio says.

Minutaglio enrolled in Johnson’s senior communication capstone course and created an original Texas magazine for millennials as her final project, writing all of the stories and designing the entire layout herself.

“It was so much work, but I was so proud of it. I probably annoyed Sammye Johnson with how often I would go to her office hours,” Minutaglio laughs. “I couldn’t stay away, though! She had so many incredible stories and experiences, so I wanted to soak it all up and learn as much as I could from her.”

Rose Minutaglio '15 displays her communication capstone project and her gift from Trinity professor emerita of communication Sammye Johnson.

While a student at Trinity, Minutaglio participated in Trinity’s Leadership Academy, was a member of Gamma Chi Delta, co-founded the Zeta Tau chapter of Phi Sigma Pi, played “every intramural sport available,” received the Kemper Diehl/James McCrory Endowed Scholarship award, and was a reporter for the Pulse section of the Trinitonian.

“I still remember the article I wrote about James Mauldin. It was one of my first feature-style human interest articles where I got to spend time with him and get to know him. I really liked doing that type of writing and reporting, so I think that story in particular helped me realize I always wanted to have a human interest angle to my writing when I could,” Minutaglio says.

During the spring semester of her junior year, Minutaglio studied abroad in Rome, where she worked for an international magazine in the city, got a selfie with Pope Francis, and traveled to Croatia and Morocco during her spring break.

“One of the reasons I picked Trinity was because they had a really good study abroad program. I didn’t speak Italian when I arrived in Rome, so I gained a lot of self-confidence by just going up to random people and trying to talk with them,” Minutaglio says. “That experience taught me you don’t have to be scared or intimidated to talk to people, and that’s valuable as a journalist.”

Minutaglio snaps a selfie with Pope Francis passing by and makes a wish in Trevi Fountain while studying abroad in Rome.

Minutaglio was accepted into the American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine Internship Program after returning from studying abroad and spent the summer before her senior year working as a reporter for Sports Illustrated in New York. When the fall semester began, she joined Trinity’s Board of Campus Publications, started working in the San Antonio Spurs’ public relations department, and held a position with the San Antonio Book Festival. Instead of taking things easy over her last winter break, Minutaglio returned to New York and worked as a features intern at Seventeen magazine.

After graduating from Trinity, Minutaglio got an internship at People magazine, where she did a little bit of everything from celebrity interviews on the red carpet to crime writing, but she always gravitated towards human interest content. Once she was hired as an editorial assistant, she began to write more human interest pieces for the website and print magazine and was soon promoted to staff writer.

“That was an amazing job because I was sort of the boots on the ground person, so whenever a big breaking news event happened, they would send me to go cover it,” Minutaglio explains.

People sent Minutaglio to Orlando to cover the Pulse nightclub shooting. She also wrote about the Zika outbreak in Florida. When music artist Prince died, People flew Minutaglio to Minnesota to go to Paisley Park to find out more.

“Using the skills I picked up in Rome about not being afraid to approach people, I just started talking to random people about Prince. One of the people I talked with knew Prince’s longtime bodyguard and got me in touch with him; I ended up going to his house and having a long interview with him,” Minutaglio says.

When music artist David Bowie died, Minutaglio experienced more “magical journalism” when she interviewed the employees at a SoHo bookstore and learned about how he would take his children there and read stories to them. That anecdote made it into People’s obituary.

“I’ve learned there’s nothing better than anecdotes,” Minutaglio says. “It’s the whole principle of show, don’t tell, and that comes from good reporting.”

A little over two years into her time at People, Hearst poached Minutaglio and brought her in as the features editor of its digital newsroom, where she wrote and edited content for 17 different sites, including Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, and Town & Country, and even traveled to Pyeongchang, South Korea, to cover the 2018 Winter Olympics, an assignment she looks back on fondly despite its challenges.

“It was cool because I flew to South Korea by myself and figured out all of the logistical stuff. On top of that, I’m trying to reach athletes who are basically unreachable during the Olympics to write feature stories and do original reporting, and the publicists generally don’t want you reaching out to their athletes. You really have to dig and look for those story leads. It was so much work, but it was also so much fun,” Minutaglio says.

Minutaglio appears on Good Morning America to talk about her story on Elizabeth Chambers.

In 2019, Minutaglio joined ELLE as a staff writer and climbed the ranks to her new position in January 2024. She recently published a story with ELLE’s in-house producer Laura Hacker about Justine Lindsay, the first openly transgender woman in NFL cheerleading.

“I was really proud of that story. Justine Lindsay loved it, and I got so much feedback from readers and people in the trans community who were really thrilled with the piece. It’s a lot of pressure when someone like Justine trusts you with telling their story to the world, but it’s so rewarding when your subject lets you know you told it accurately and authentically. There’s not much more I can ask for as a journalist,” Minutaglio says.

Minutaglio’s career has seen her sit down to interview several powerful, influential subjects, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, Bill Gates, Serena Williams, Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, and Greta Thunberg. Through all of the excitement of meeting them, Minutaglio stays calm and keeps the story front and center in her mind.

“I don’t get nervous or intimidated. It’s more like a jolt of adrenaline. It’s exciting to meet these powerful people and have the privilege of talking to them, but as a journalist, sometimes I’m going to ask tough questions that they might not necessarily like,” Minutaglio says.

Minutaglio interviews Serena Williams and Michael Phelps.

With all of her storytelling experience, especially those that deal with tough subjects, Minutaglio highlights an element that is essential to how she approaches her work.

“The number one thing is always have empathy,” Minutaglio says. “No matter what you’re reporting, writing, or editing, you have to remember it’s about a real person with real feelings and real experiences, and you have to respect that.”

One of Minutaglio’s most treasured possessions is a book called The American Magazine that Johnson gave her. Inside is an inscription from Johnson that reads, “For Rose—whose name I expect to see at the top of a magazine masthead someday—Sammye.”

It is safe to say that Minutaglio has accomplished that and much more in her young career.

To read Minutaglio’s work, visit ELLE.com.

Kenneth Caruthers '15 is the assistant director of Digital Communications for the University’s Office of Alumni Relations.

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