Learning is a lifelong adventure for any committed journalist, a journey shaped by academic studies, real world application, and experiences shared by those working in the field. There’s always an opportunity to grow for those open to it. Looking back on my college years, I was fortunate to have been exposed to constant advice from professors and professionals, even if I didn’t recognize its true value at the time. I vividly remember listening to presentations by network news producers, corporate news directors, Presidential campaign media advisors, pollsters, news anchors, reporters, photographers, and journalism academics. Today, I apply their principles and pointers on a daily basis.
Being asked to speak to a class of journalism students at my alma mater, Northwestern State University, is somewhat of an intimidating experience. You hope to leave behind at least one valuable piece of advice or thought-provoking concept to consider. Typically that process is made easier by the professor proposing a topic or focus for my conversation.
I often leave these lectures with a somewhat guilty feeling because of what I take away from the experience. The preparation process provides a valuable opportunity to refresh myself on certain concepts and the challenges of effectively communicating these best practices. Working with students in this setting is another chance to organically share knowledge and ideas, just as we brainstorm in a professional newsroom.
Students volunteer insight into the ever-changing communications field and pose great questions about the ethical challenges they observe around them. Even though these young minds lack practical application, they clearly demonstrate an understanding of the responsibility assumed by journalists in the digital age.
With the rapid evolution of technology and the delivery of information, journalists and content providers are constantly re-assessing the demands of the audiences we serve. It’s a challenging and exciting time to find a vocation in this industry.