Focused, fearless and flexible: How to suceed as a journalist

People always ask kids what they want to be when they grow up.  As a kid, I never knew how to answer that question.  I never understood how it would be possible to confine my life to one job, one speciality.

This past Monday, Tina Firesheets, a veteran reporter at the Greensboro News and Record came to speak with our reporting class about her experience as a journalist.

As a journalist, Firesheets said, you get to learn something new every day.  Journalism is the job for naturally curious people, who want to “step into someone’s life for a time.”

To outsiders, journalism may appear to be a job for good writers and those with the most creative minds.  While these qualities make good journalists, after working as a student reporter for several years and hearing Firesheets speak about the professional side of reporting, I have found that reporting skills delve much deeper than writing skills and creativity.

Good reporters have to be focused, fearless and flexible.

Firesheets entered the journalism business by interning with the Henderson Times-News and freelancing in Brevard while she was in college.  When her mom was diagnosed with lung cancer her senior year of college, she took a year off and freelanced for the News and Record in their Entertainment magazine.  There could have been an easier route for Firesheets, she probably could have landed a communications job out of college, received a respectable first-year salary, and avoided freelancing all together.  But Firesheets knew that she wanted to be a reporter, and she kept her focus.

A large majority of my journalism class is female, and Fireshees encouraged us to be fearless in the journalism world (though she also advised us to be careful in certain situations).  As a young female journalist, Firesheets said, you must not be intimidated by interviewing businessmen who have been in the business for many years.  Always dress professionally, “always be on time, be early if you can, and allow for something to go wrong,” Firesheets said.

“If you don’t like being rushed and doing things quickly, this is not the job for you,” Firesheets said.  Being flexible with work hours, stories and skillls has always been a crucial part of journalism, but the evolution of social media and online news outlets has forced journalists to become even more accepting of new skills and processes.

Listening to Firesheets talk, I remembered why I chose to major in journalism.  It’s not about the money, or how hard it will be to enter the business.  It’s about that adrenaline rush when chasing a story, the experiences encountered while interviewing, the focus and determination while writing, the satisfaction of seeing your name in print (or online) at the top of the story, the story you shared to the world and the knoweldge you gave to your readers.

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One thought on “Focused, fearless and flexible: How to suceed as a journalist

  1. Nicole, This is a good reflection rather than a straight news account of her talk. Make the blog interactive by using links to the paper, schools, etc.

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