If not for their mutual love of newspapers, Molly Bedford, BA ’08, and Ryan Knutson, BS ’09, might never have met. Both were students in the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC). But it was the Oregon Daily Emerald that brought Bedford and Knutson together: early in 2006, she became design editor and he was hired as a reporter. “We started chatting one Sunday afternoon while waiting for the office to open,” Knutson says.
More than a decade later, their relationship and careers could scarcely be better. Now husband and wife and living in the Big Apple, Knutson is senior vice president of media partnerships for Dow Jones, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal, and Bedford is an editor for the New York Times.
Call it a love story about two lovers of the Fourth Estate.
During their years at UO, Bedford worked for the SOJC’s Flux magazine and interned for Willamette Week, Pacific Magazine, and Portland Monthly. Knutson held internships at the Oregonian and Oregon Public Broadcasting. Both traveled to Africa for summer internships through the SOJC’s Media in Ghana program.
Those experiences set the two up for professional success, but their fateful meeting outside the Emerald launched their success as a couple.
Eventually, Knutson became editor in chief and Bedford became managing editor. Their connection sparked while they were spending 12 hours a day together, six days a week. Knowing a relationship might be complicated by the fact that they worked together, they took it slowly at first.
“We kept it professional at the office and avoided telling our colleagues,” Bedford says. “I think a lot of people were surprised when they found out we were together.”
When the two graduated at the start of the Great Recession, jobs—particularly in journalism—were difficult to come by. For three years, Bedford and Knutson lived on opposite sides of the country while building their careers.
“We always assumed we would be long distance,” Bedford says. “We were both so ambitious and hungry for journalism jobs. We didn’t want either of us to pass up good opportunities just so we could live in the same place. Developing our careers and our own identities was the most important thing.”
When Bedford graduated with a journalism degree and an emphasis in advertising, she already had an impressive design portfolio that landed her a position at the Naples Daily News in Florida. A few months later, she was on her way back to the West Coast for a highly sought-after internship at the Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, Knutson—whose journalism degree focused on news and editorial aspects of the field—connected with UO alumnus Jim Pensiero, BA ’75 (history), then managing editor at the Wall Street Journal, who encouraged the recent graduate to apply for an internship. After a summer interning at the newspaper’s San Francisco office, Knutson got his chance to break into the New York market.
“In early 2010, I moved to New York to intern at ProPublica,” Knutson says. “When that internship was about to wrap up, the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, and I had the opportunity to sink my teeth into a major story.”
Knutson parlayed that project into a job at the PBS show Frontline, which had partnered with ProPublica to document the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. For the next three years, he worked on several documentaries for the show, including the Emmy Award–winning “The Retirement Gamble” and three pieces that were nominated for Emmys.
But he never lost touch with his contacts at the Journal, which eventually hired him as a reporter on the telecom beat.
During the years they lived on opposite coasts, Knutson and Bedford took turns visiting each other every six weeks. At one point, Bedford bought an “All You Can Jet” pass that allowed her to fly to New York once a week for five weeks.
Despite all the frequent flyer miles she was racking up, Bedford was itching to join Knutson in the Big Apple. Her constant networking while at the UO proved its worth when an Emerald Media staffer connected her with the editor of print production at the New York Times.
“I was offered a freelance position at first and made a leap of faith to move to New York,” Bedford says. “From there it was all about doing great work, making a good impression, and seizing internal opportunities as they arose.”
Her plan worked. Bedford landed a full-time position as an editorial designer and the two were finally together in the same state again.
Today, Bedford balances her day job with work for Fordham University, where she has been an advisor to the school newspaper and has taught courses in publication design, in an effort to ensure that promising journalists keep entering the workforce. Knutson, meanwhile, sees his new job working with media partners as another way to improve the changing journalism industry.
Both say the years they were apart have been worth it. In summer 2014, the couple got married in Oregon, in a ceremony that could have made headlines—Portland Bride and Groom magazine covered the wedding and even the Duck attended.
“It was incredible to be able to start our lives together as a normal couple,” Bedford says. “To work at the New York Times and live with Ryan in the same city—it felt like all of our hard work and sacrifice paid off.”
—By Becky Hoag
Becky Hoag, class of 2019, is majoring in journalism and in environmental science, working as the web designer for the Clark Honors College research program Glacier Lab, and serving as editor in chief of the Envision, a UO student-run environmental publication.