How did you get your first job in this field?
College was a really valuable experience, and not so much because of the courses, but because it required an internship which then allowed me to get in a working environment. I started off with an unpaid internship at a station in Dallas. From the first day, I started learning the inside learnings of a newsroom. The opportunity provided a great, quick education in the field. The most important moment happened 2 weeks into the internship when I was asked to take on an additional task: putting people’s names on the screen. It was minimum wage and it was fun. But that moment was important – at the end of that internship period all the other interns left and I stayed because I was an official employee. I worked my way up from there, becoming a producer and later on, an anchor.
Describe your typical day at work.
You have to be ready to spring when the story hits. When the tsunami hit Japan, I had been packing for a trip to Dallas. Within 5-6 I packed a new bag and was on the first available flight to Japan. By the time you land, you don’t have time to rest because people have already sat with the story while you were on the flight. I need to gather as much information as I can. We were using Skype and an iPhone to do the first couple of days of reports. It was a remarkable experience, but it is exhausting. Adrenaline, Red Bull and coffee keep me going.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Being able to experience history in the making. Witnessing those crucial moments, whether presidential campaigns or international tragedies, becomes a privilege and it gives you the ability to understand the world in a new way. It’s an awesome responsibility to be the one they send. And to then be the person who brings insight to people and help broaden their understanding of current events.
What advice would you give someone seeking a career in your field?
First and foremost, you have to understand that you are in a very subjective industry. Some people are going to love you, and some people won’t. But if you personally thing that you’re getting better and evolving in your career, you will succeed. And that’s the key: find a way to do things differently than everyone else. Innovate and evolve. Competition is fierce, we are all reporting on the same thing. You need to approach a story in a new way that is thoughtful and expands people’s knowledge. Think ahead and get ahead of everyone else, and always evaluate your work. Where can you get better? If you have that mentality, you separate yourself from the rest and everyone starts watching you.
How do you see the future of the profession? What are the positions in this field with the most potential for growth?
We do seminars about how in the old days you had to be a reporter because no one else had the camera and the edit gear. Now we have so much technology on our phones that anyone is capable of making their own reports. Being a professional journalist comes with all the more pressure to be better than the rest. Part of what we do is gather that new, incoming information and leverage it for our own story. Keeping pace with the evolution of technology and its impact is very helpful.