It's no secret that the traditional world of journalism no longer exists. Today it is a topsy-turvy existence -- with journalistic storytellers having gone through continuous shake-ups and job losses and the companies that hired them moving through one downsizing after another. In this chaotic environment, it would be foolish to predict where the business of journalism is heading. I'm not even sure that true journalism--in its purest form -- can survive as a business. There will always be a few brave soles pursuing it, but their business models are still forming and unproven. In this series of columns, I will avoid the volatile business issues but want to focus on the essential skill sets a person needs today to become a good journalist.
A young reporter working for an Alabama television station was recently fired for revealing too much information on her personal blog. The story, though missing some details, says a lot about today's news business. Shea Allen, the 20-something female reporter fired, wrote a blog called "Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter" and did some personal YouTube videos. She was quickly creating a signature of her own, something her bosses at WAAY-TV, Channel 31, in Huntsville, Alabama couldn't take.
Birds+Tweets = "TWITTER". Your beautiful face+online biographies = "FACEBOOK"? Okay maybe that one wasn't as good. The world of social media has taken over and needless to say people are making a career out of it. I'm one of those people, although I never thought that I would be taking this route. Well I'm not exactly making a career out of it, but freelancing "kind of" pays the bills.
Ahh, we meet again! Not much has changed on my end. I'm still confused about my career path but hey! I'm 23 years old, I have time right? I learned a lot in my journalism program. The problem is I didn't learn what I wanted too. Going into the program I wanted to focus on broadcast. There wasn't really a way for me to do this in a generalized program. I wanted to be on television so why was I paying $8,000 a year to learn things that didn't interest me? I know what you're thinking: "$8,000 isn't a lot in today's education system." Well it is when you're not learning what you want to! Ugh, SUNY Albany, you make my skin crawl sometimes! Back to the important topic here: my lack of direction.
"So Kristina, what are you looking to major in?" "I'm thinking either communications or pre-med." Ha! Yeah, neither of those worked out! As a transfer student to the University at Albany, I went in confused, scared and undecided. Declaring a major was frightening because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.
This is it, my video journalist friends. It's the final week before I begin my studies at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. As I've chronicled over the past several weeks, I've done all that I can to prepare myself emotionally and scholastically. I have also spent the past few weeks traveling across the country, taking in some of the amazing sights that make up our great nation. My cross-country trip has given me plenty of time to reflect, and I have found myself thinking often about this blog and how much writing it has helped me on my journey to become a video journalist.
"How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" "Practice, practice, practice!" I know, I know... it's an old and pretty cliché joke, but I can't help but think how applicable it is to us, my fellow budding journalists. Think of it this way: Yo Yo Ma did not become the star cellist that he is overnight. Like any prominent athlete or musician, professional journalists (and I'm not just talking the ones who become famous by being on TV) have climbed the ranks by working hard and—you guessed it—honing their craft through practice.
I've touched on this subject lightly in one of my more recent posts, but I can't stress enough how important it is to prepare! Whether you're planning for an interview with a big shot politician or the start of your graduate education, preparation is key to success in the field of video journalism. I believe it was Woody Allen who said, "80 percent of success is showing up." And I couldn't agree more. But you know what that other 20% is? PREPARATION! Can you tell I'm big on being prepared? Maybe it's my super type A personality or the fact that I have a serious fear of the unknown, but — at least for me — being prepared is an absolute, hands-down, no excuses, must-have when approaching any journalistic endeavor.
This past month has been quite strange. It has basically been a series of goodbyes as I bid adieu to the family, friends and town where I've spent the entirety of my life. Farewells can certainly be tough, but what I did not anticipate was how difficult it would be to say goodbye to what I'll call my first love: the theater. I was ten when my mom first got me involved in the local theater circuit. Little ham that I was, she signed me up for a summer camp at a nearby theater, and I fell swiftly and deeply in love. Not only did theater allow me a space to make new, lasting friendships, but in many ways it also prepared me for my eventual interest in journalism. It was, after all, my first introduction to storytelling.
Who would have thought, after endless months complaining about how difficult the grad school application process was, that the hardest part was yet to come? Ladies and gentlemen, for an impatient gal like me, the waiting game is tough. Maybe not quite as difficult as perfectly crafting personal statements or tracking down resumes, transcripts and recommendations, but hard in its own way. You see, there's a lot that needs to be done before I make the jump across the country to start my journalism graduate program.