‘It has become a bigger pride as I’ve come along’: Observer Alum Derrica Lane Moves to The Washington Post

Former Observer features editor recalls how her experience at FLC’s student newspaper impacted her career



Derrica Lane, FCLC ’03, credits much of her joy and success with journalism to her time spent at The Observer.


Derrica Lane, a fresh graduate of Fordham College at Lincoln Center ’03, had a starry-eyed vision of becoming a magazine journalist while she worked retail at a Gucci store in New York City. On the glamorous sales floor 18 years ago, she was approached by a former internship supervisor with a job offer. Beneath the luminous lights and among the costly chic apparel, Lane accepted the proposal to work at Time Inc. Sports Illustrated for Kids as a sales assistant. 

Working within the marketing sphere appeared to be a far cry from the holy grail of her journalism wishes.

At the time, Lane did not want to work in sales, but she agreed to the opportunity in the hopes that it would get her foot in the door to the editorial side of a prestigious magazine publication. She wanted to write on pop culture and entertainment — a steadfast expectation she sustained during her Fordham years. 

Starting her junior year, Lane began as a staff writer at The Observer. From 2002-03, she served as features editor during her senior year. 

As Lane promptly recalled her days as features editor, she credited her early management experience with The Observer as catalyzing her career that eventually landed her a job with The Washington Post as the director of product and solutions marketing in January.

“I had to manage my own team of writers, which was challenging. It got me to think about how the Features section contributes to the overall narrative of the newspaper itself,” Lane said, referencing how a publication presents itself to its audience — a vital skill for her current occupation at The Washington Post. 

Once Lane embarked on her post-graduate role at Time Inc., she discovered an unexpected passion for marketing after two colleagues in the department took her under their wing and taught her on the job. 

With a discerning eye for companies with a concise digital strategy, Lane then plunged into the subsequent roles of her career.

In a constantly changing time for journalism, as more and more publications joined the new online medium, Lane departed from her role at Time Inc. She knew she couldn’t hang onto print publications forever given the boom of the internet era. 

Online publications started to emerge as a method to conveniently receive news in the ’90s to early ’00s when media companies branched out from the traditional print medium. This digital shift evoked a drop in print circulation as online platforms became orthodox amid the internet’s fast eruption.

“I left Time Inc. eventually because you can’t depend on print publications and need to evolve from them instead,” she said.

With a discerning eye for companies with a concise digital strategy, Lane then plunged into the subsequent roles of her career, from Entertainment Weekly to New York Magazine to NBCUniversal, where she continued to work within the marketing realm.

“I do believe that my work had become a lot more mission-oriented, and that was something instilled at The Observer.” Derrica Lane, FCLC ’03

Her past dream of becoming a magazine journalist became abandoned as she successfully leveraged her way through various marketing roles at prominent media companies, granting her fine expertise within the field. 

It wasn’t until Lane left NBCUniversal to work for Salon Magazine that she rekindled her former fantasy with love for reporting on hard news. 

A fondness for the news and an earnest dedication to the practices of journalism were imprinted on Lane from her time with The Observer. Lane recognized that assisting the collegiate newspaper as features editor was integral in grasping the foundations of journalism and news ethics.

“I do believe that my work had become a lot more mission-oriented, and that was something instilled at The Observer because there was a level of thoughtfulness and care to the devotion of journalism we need to respect,” she said, which translated into the preparation for the roles of her career, especially for Salon Magazine and onward.

“Even though I’m on the marketing side … I have to ethically interact with the newsroom,” Lane said. She asks herself questions like: “How do I take what the newsroom is doing every day and use it to drive revenue, in a way that doesn’t diminish the efforts of the publication … or impact the voice of the newsroom?” 

After working at Salon Magazine for five years, with a reawakened devotion to journalism and news ethics, Lane moved from her preceding WarnerMedia job to her current position at The Washington Post. 

Lane leads a team of seven responsible for developing positioning for brands, publishers, and the industry, leveraging The Washington Post’s vast product and solution offerings to meet their business needs,” wrote the major news outlet.

Lane explained that she and her team oversee scheming out monetizable opportunities for the journalism produced at The Washington Post. 

“We can see (for example) that the food editor has a really cool idea for a new mixed salad juice section, so my team asks how we can help the funding to empower that section?” she said. While everything on the job is not always monetizable, Lane describes this as a component to alternately “drive awareness” of the content the newsroom is presenting. 

The longer Lane worked within the industry, the more it incentivized her to switch gears from helping to rake up revenue by strategizing funding for publications to “supporting journalism” instead.

“The impact of my work now has become gradually more important.” Derrica Lane

“I didn’t stay at other places as long as I could have, because if I’m going to work 8 to 14 hours sometimes, who am I giving that time to?” Lane said. 

Her transition to The Washington Post is an exhilarating opportunity to work closely with her deep connection to journalism rather than entirely aligning with advertising and sales. 

“My last few roles I have been focused on where I could be where my work would directly impact the ability for people to go out and report … and at The Post, I believe there is a cutting edge where I can try and engage younger audiences – the impact of my work now has become gradually more important.”

Lane was completely immersed in the idea of becoming embedded within the newsroom and collaborating with newsroom staff while simultaneously helping to build revenue; a tight link between her current work and her prior goals of working in a newsroom. 

She partly chose The Washington Post as her knight in shining armor to be in touch with her Fordham journalism aspirations once again, as she is able to work closely with the newsroom and practices of journalism. 

“I still talk about that experience (with The Observer) almost 20 years into my career because it was really informative.” Derrica Lane

“This role and the team that I manage, our mandate is to help with revenue … but we get to know what every desk is working on, what ideas are ruminating in the newsroom and what is on the newsroom road map,” she said. “I was 100% drawn to the fact that my day-to-day job is to interact with the newsroom. It feels like I’m closer to achieving my original journalism dreams since I am working with the newsroom now,” Lane said.

These days, Lane aims to be “the biggest cheerleader for her team,” strengthening her team philosophy to branch off into mentorship in partnership with her management. 

Wherever her personal career development at The Washington Post leads to next, Lane’s history at The Observer will never be forgotten. It will be sweetly remembered through the conversations she has with coworkers and the staff around her. 

“I still talk about that experience (with The Observer) almost 20 years into my career because it was really informative,” she said. “It has become a bigger pride as I’ve come along.”