Sarah Raybin Portlock (1985-2017) was the Washington Square News editor-in-chief in 2006. She was not only an accomplished journalist, but she mentored and championed young journalists throughout her career, starting at WSN.
After WSN, Sarah worked at the Associated Press, Newsday, The Star-Ledger and the Brooklyn Paper. She eventually took the reins as the Wall Street Journal’s day editor where she was responsible for the daily editorial plan. On March 31, 2017, while Sarah was pregnant with her first child, she suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm and gave birth to Aviva Portlock Fellman. For seven months, she bravely fought to recover. Unfortunately on Nov. 6, 2017, Sarah passed away suddenly.
Sarah championed student journalism, not only as a way to inform a campus community, but also to provide the space and support students need to develop into thoughtful, rigorous journalists. We are honored to be able to start this fund in Sarah's name, with the specific purpose of supporting student journalists. Sarah's parents, Nancy Raybin and Bill Portlock, have made a generous inaugural donation to this fund. We hope you'll join us in supporting WSN in Sarah's name.
Left: Sarah in the WSN newsroom as editor-in-chief in 2006. Right: Sarah, 10 years later.
What is this fund?
Sarah invested in newsroom leaders of the future, and that's what this fund does.
The money will be put in an endowment, which will fund stipends for the paper's top editors – the editor-in-chief and managing editor. While those two positions will be prioritized, additional funds will be distributed to support other newsroom leaders at the WSN managing board's discretion.
All students should have an opportunity to step into WSN's top leadership roles, which often require more than 40 hours a week in the newsroom while balancing a full-time academic load. We believe every student should be able to lead WSN without undue financial burdens.
WSN has been the training grounds for some of the top newsroom leaders in the world, like Sarah. We believe it's important to invest in the next generation of leaders who champion truth and fairness in the face of rising disinformation.
This is a joint effort between Sarah's parents, Nancy Raybin and Bill Portlock, and the 10-person WSN managing board, which consists of students and WSN alums. The board has made a concerted effort to stabilize WSN as an institution while empowering student journalists so they can have the same (or better!) opportunities as those who came before them. Meanwhile, Sarah's parents have been heavily involved in supporting WSN and student journalists.
Sarah with Nathan, her brother, and her dad Bill.