Maria Sestito

Maria Sestito reports for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, California, where she focuses on issues facing the areas exploding senior citizen population. Before earning her master’s degree at the University of California-Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism in May 2020, Sestito was the public safety reporter at the Napa Valley Register. While there, she covered murder trials and the North Bay Wildfires. She also started her own lifestyle column called “Jersey Girl.” Before moving to California, Sestito worked at The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C. as a photographer and general assignment reporter. She is originally from New Jersey and received a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Rutgers University in 2012. Sestito has won several California News Publishers Association awards for Best Writing, Best Column, and Breaking News. She is a recipient of the U.S. Department of Education’s Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship for the study of Arabic and a Bloomberg-UNC-Berkeley Business Journalism Diversity Fellow. At Berkeley, she won the Dean’s Merit Fellowship.  

The Desert Sun

The Desert Sun is a small but mighty newsroom covering the Coachella Valley in Southern California. The Desert Sun is known for its groundbreaking environmental coverage, extensive arts reporting and watchdog journalism. The paper has won numerous awards, including an Edward R. Murrow award for a short film, “Freed But Forgotten: A Proposition 47 Investigation.” As a member of the USA Today network, its reporting regularly also appears in USA Today and 100+ other Gannett Co. papers. In addition to local news coverage, The Desert Sun produces a magazine, DESERT; a music festival called Tachevah; and a community storytelling series.