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Turning the Tables on the NECC Observer’s Entertainment Reporter 

Submitted by on May 7, 2024 – 1:27 pm

As the entertainment reporter for Northern Essex Community College’s student newspaper, the NECC Observer, Shaun Hood is used to being the one asking the questions. But recently, he took a turn in the hot seat and answered questions about his journey to NECC, how he discovered a love of pop culture and his approach to interviewing stars like his most recent subject, NECC alum Tom Bergeron.

Shaun Hood sits at a desk with a laptop computer and smiles at the camera

Shaun Hood, Liberal Arts- Journalism student

Hood is a Liberal Arts- Journalism major from Groveland. He says he’s always loved music and movies and as someone with autism, that passion helped him find his voice.

“I love to communicate. I think there’s also that fascination with music and TV shows that made me want to go to school for journalism. I was obsessed with pop culture as a kid, so writing about it is my way of running with it,” Hood remembers.

That passion was nurtured at Pentucket Regional High School, where Hood got involved with the student newspaper and started writing for entertainment websites. When the time came to start thinking about college, several teachers and his job coach helped him formulate a plan to attend NECC to continue exploring his love of journalism.

Hood enrolled in the fall of 2019, but that spring, the pandemic forced him to take classes online. He stuck with it, and in the fall of 2021, he returned to in-person classes and got involved with the NECC Observer.

“It’s been a really positive experience,” Hood says of his tenure covering entertainment for the newspaper. He writes a lot about theater, and that expertise led to a new opportunity for him. He helped coordinate and hosted a live Q&A with Stephanie Jae Park, an actress and singer who recently starred as Eliza in the Broadway company of Hamilton.

“She was live on Zoom, and I interviewed her in front of the audience. So everyone got to see me ask questions and got to ask her questions, too.”

Hood realized he also has a knack for event planning when it comes to experiences like the Q&A. He’s now exploring ways to combine that with his love of writing. He helped plan the annual public speaking event at NECC, Speechapalooza, during Spring 2023. But he’s clear he will not stop reporting, especially since he just landed his biggest interview to date with TV host and NECC alum Tom Bergeron.  “It was really good. We talked about the Oscars. He’s the biggest name I ever interviewed for any publication, and I knew he’d be very appropriate for the Observer.”

The two also connected over Hood’s recent hosting gig. Bergeron shared that theater courses helped him tremendously during his time as a student at NECC and in his subsequent career and encouraged Hood and his fellow students to seek out similar opportunities.

Hood is taking Bergeron’s advice to heart and plans to continue to hone his hosting skills. He also says he has his own advice for students, which he first heard during his event with Park.

“She said, ‘nurture the things that make you different.’ I think about what Stephanie said– a lot of autistic people have certain skills they’re really good at. I think it’s important for neurodivergent people to use those skills to the fullest.”

Hood’s articles and interviews can be found on the Observer website and his own website