A few notable news giants were cleared out of the White House press conference on Friday February 24, but President Trump still made room in the press pool for some fresh faces. A rather unknown outlet, UNF News and Radio Network, UNF standing for Universal News Forever, recently received positive feedback from the President.
Kyle Mazza, a 19 year old from Fair Lawn, New Jersey, is the founder, sole reporter, and photographer for UNF News – an independent, small news organization of his own creation.
As a kid, Mazza’s enthusiasm led him to cover local events. “I never watched cartoons. I was always interested in journalism,” Mazza told MediaFile.
Mazza commonly wrote about Fair Lawn events that turned into segments on the town’s local television channel. He then expanded UNF’s coverage to New York City local stories as well.
— Kyle Mazza (@KyleMazzaWUNF) February 20, 2017
— Kyle Mazza (@KyleMazzaWUNF) February 24, 2017
While not a part of a big name news organization, Mazza received an official press credential, untraditionally, from the New York City Police Department to cover New York’s City Hall. With permission from Mayor DeBlasio, Mazza reported out of a small room in the basement of City Hall, which became his metropolitan desk.
He then set his sights on the District of Columbia, and applied for a daily press pass from the White House Press Office. This pass was upgraded to a weekly pass, which gave Mazza frequent access to the executive branch and some of the most respected and decorated gatekeepers in journalism.
— Kyle Mazza (@KyleMazzaWUNF) February 27, 2017
The young reporter has attended more than a few White House press events thus far, the most high-profile being on February 16.
At that news conference – held in the White House’s East Room – Russia, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and “fake news” were all on the agenda. Mazza decided to change the conversation’s direction and asked the President about the First Lady’s reopening of the White House Visitors Center.
“There wasn’t a lot of coverage put out about the press release and I thought it would be something people would want to know about,” Mazza said.
Though the question was but a footnote at the conference, it still garnered attention from a few well-established news outlets.
— Kyle Mazza (@KyleMazzaWUNF) February 23, 2017
Mazza told MediaFile that he did not feel the question was a softball, and affirmed that journalists can ask whatever they choose at these conferences. Subsequently, Mazza feels that he chooses his own headlines as an independent reporter.
“You are free to go wherever you want at any given time,” Mazza told MediaFile. “You are free to write the stories you want.”
This is not to say that Mazza would not be open to a White House correspondent position at one of the national papers or television networks – but he would have to consider how the paper aligned with his journalistic values.
“Honest straightforward reporting; I only do the facts, I never do opinions,” he wrote.
Part of his reasoning includes maintaining the credibility of his sources and himself as a journalist.
“If you say the incorrect stuff and wrong facts you’re going to impeded [sic] on your news credibility and hurt the credibility of the public information office where you got your information,” he wrote.
However, he has one critique of his fellow journalists: there is too much heart placed in articles outside of the opinions section.
“Journalists are only supposed to report the facts but the mainstream media does otherwise to stand out from the crowd,” Mazza told MediaFile. “You’re only supposed to say what happened not what you think or feel.”