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News professionals: Journalism still alive & well

April 17th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Tazya Williams

LOGAN—Seven broadcast news professionals, most of them Utah State alumni, told USU students Friday that the death of journalism is wildly exaggerated.

“Journalism is still there and always will be,” KSL promotions director Al Taylor said as part of a panel discussion. “It’s just the ways and the means at which people consume it that is changing. Take your skills and do what you want to do.”

The media professionals were on campus for a day-long JCOM Career Day on Friday, with two panels—one for video/broadcast news students and one for print and Web journalists—discussing the state of the business and strategies for breaking in.

Salt Lake City’s ABC4 internship coordinator Dan Metcalf emphasized the importance of real-world experience—not just one internship, but as many as possible.

The real world is demanding, the visiting pro’s warned the students, and even interns are expected to rise to professional standards.

“If you are just coming to do it for credit, I don’t want you,” Metcalf said. “Versatility is more important now then it ever was before. Skills are really important.”

KSL producer Brittany Nelson, who interned at KSL as a JCOM senior, said her internship was rigorous—she was sent out into the wild starting on the very first day.

“At KSL as an intern, you are expected to do it and do it well,” Nelson said.

Students who succeed and thrive in their internships often have their foot in the door for jobs after graduations, the media professionals said. Nelson is an example of this, starting fulltime at KSL the Monday after she graduated from USU in 2005.

In the current market, many TV stations are “letting big-timers go to hire young people with less experience,” Metcalf said, so a strong internship performance is even more important today than in better economic times.

Both Metcalf and JCOM alumnus Scott Gerard, director and host of WFAN/Jazz Radio in Salt Lake City, said how important it is for students to have a wide range of skills. The more experience and skills a beginning employee has, the more attractive she is to employers who are looking to hire.

“Make sure you are the jack-of-all-trades,” Gerard said.

Emmy-winning news producer Ranae Bangerter of KTVB7, the NBC affiliate in Boise, said how important it is to write well, and to demonstrate a range of skills.

With graduation just three weeks away, many students wanted tips on how to land that first job.

KSL reporter Sarah Dalloff, a 2006 broadcasting alum, said students approaching graduation and looking for that first job have to send out demo tapes of their work to as many employers as possible. If you are going to target a particular market, she advised, watch their newscasts and pick up a style that you like and work to incorporate it into your style.

“Be a little pushy, make yourself stand out,” Dallof said. “Say, ‘I really want this job. Do you mind if I tag a long? is there anything you need me to do?’”

Both Gerard and Dalloff said how important it is plan to start in a smaller broadcast market.

“Work your way up through smaller markets and work your way to where you want to be,” Gerard said.


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