One of my old instructors from freshman year reached out to me recently, asking if I could come speak to his class of 130 broadcast journalism freshmen. I was flattered and overwhelmed at the thought of speaking in front of a classroom. I remember being in their shoes not too long ago and now I’m expected to give my professional insight. Whoa.
So I’ve been thinking about what my perspective has to offer. A few talking points came to mind as I was watching “Humans of New York” episodes on Facebook, for some reason. When creativity sneaks up, exploit it! …even if it’s past bedtime. I quickly jotted my ideas down, knowing I’d otherwise forget tomorrow. That quickly turned into blog-post material. It’s been awhile since I last posted here so why not? I found I write better when I “word vomit” and let it all out without thinking too much. So what started as a speech outline, is now a blogpost. I consider this a look into how I’ve developed as a professional journalist. It’s been five months since I started the job as a reporter/multimedia journalist for WACH FOX News in Columbia, SC. I have learned and developed personally and professionally for the better.
Here’s a piece of my mind when it comes to my career. Thoughts are a bit choppy:
I am in the field of journalism because it’s a different adventure every day. It feels good to be in an industry that thrives off creativity, expression and human connection.
There’s always room for improvement and learning new tricks, even for those who have been in the business for awhile. Technology and demands of the viewer are constantly changing.
It requires talking to people you normally wouldn’t talk to on a regular basis. The conversations I have are enlightening, empowering, inspiring, and eye-opening. Sometimes they’re disheartening, discouraging, the kind that puts you in a bad mood for a few hours.
The good outweighs the bad.
My experience so far has been outstanding. My coworkers are my teammates, ready to help right away, beating the unpredictability of technology together.
The most rewarding part of this job? When it’s evident people appreciate me telling their story.
Most memorable parts for me so far? Reporting the solar eclipse from the Riverbanks Zoo, capturing a historical moment people will talk about for many, many years to come.
Telling stories during the hurricane season, alerting others of what’s being done to help our neighbors desperate for help, thus spreading empowerment.
And boy, I’ve learned so much. I’ve gotten more comfortable with live shots, writing, editing video, how to conduct myself professionally.
The support I’ve found from professional Facebook groups has made a positive difference. They’re reassuring and educational.
I’ve gotten a lot of work dresses from “Newscaster’s Closets”! (The struggle with upgrading my wardrobe from “college” to “big girl” has been real)
Find those groups. Read what people are posting, whether it’s stories they’ve covered or advice. (lots of job postings too!)
Become part of the story you’re telling. Find someone or some aspect of the story you can connect with. From there, presenting the story in a compelling way will be a breeze and viewers will sense your authenticity.
Smiling at the end of your standup makes a difference, if it makes sense with the context. Viewers like smiles.
Not everyone will like or agree with what you’re covering and they’ll make it known. Politely remind them the stories you cover don’t reflect who you are. You can’t always control what you’ll cover. And you’ll soon realize other peoples’ two cents don’t have a chance of putting a dent in your thick skin.
This job also teaches you how to prepare healthy meals on-the-go. Looking decent with heels while carrying equipment around town calls for quick nutrition! This list is my favorite right now (17 high-protein meals you don’t need to reheat): https://www.self.com/gallery/lunches-you-dont-need-to-reheat
Big picture? I consider myself absolutely blessed to be able to tell stories for a living. Telling impactful stories means connecting with people on a personal level. Building trust. Keeping the community moving forward. I will forever owe a huge thanks to my news director for taking a chance on a graduate fresh out of college and for seeing potential in me.
I heard from a professor that overcoming the hurdle of getting a first job is the hardest part and things get easier from there. I’m excited to see what my good Lord has in store for the upcoming years.
I saw a post from one of the aforementioned Facebook groups in which another young journalist shared a quote from Henry Luce: “I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world”.
That says it all.