Journ Student Jess

Student journalist looking for feedback on assignments and journalism in general

The First Five Days: Lessons from a Student Journalist

with 2 comments

Pictured is a juvenile male bald eagle, released back into the wild at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Pictured is a juvenile male bald eagle, released back into the wild at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting my first week back at the Saginaw News but after looking back on the assignments I covered, the content I produced over the last few days, I cannot be happier. I have been able to make some new goals for myself this summer as well as learn a few new things.

What better way to illustrate my first week than a list of those lessons? So here it is, five lessons from a student journalist, back in the newsroom at last!

  1.  Always say yes (unless you really have to say no): Editors will throw assignments at you left and right. It’s key to figure out which ones are priority and what can wait. I also like to try and cover things I have experience or connections with. My second day on the job involved covering school board elections; luckily, I had experience from the Bay County elections last year and was able to jump in and help another reporter out at the request of my editor.
  2. Never let a co-worker get you down: Somebody in the newsroom did not like my coverage of a protest and were pretty vocal about it, right in front of me. While I did make a case for myself and an editor stepped in to mediate, it was an important reminder that not everyone believes something is as newsworthy as you. Although you should be able to back up your reasoning, you also shouldn’t let it affect your work or mood for that day. Two days later, the co-workers and I were conversing normally, because at the office, grudges don’t last. Everyone has to work together and no one has time for that sort of thing.
  3. Go to lunch with your co-workers: This is not just good for morale, but could bring about new story ideas and connections. I received a few tips this week I passed along to other reporters, who were glad for the material. Relaxing over a meal and getting out from behind the desk often clears up your mind and makes brain-storming a lot easier. Take breaks! Take a quick walk around the block to go over a story project your group has been needing to start. Not only will you gain back some energy, but you will create more!
  4. Stay objective: This is an easy lesson to remember since it is one of the key part of the Society of Professional Journalist’s code of ethics. While covering the Dow Chemical Company’s Annual Stockholders Meeting, I was presented with a lot of information about all the good things the company is doing. Just outside the doors, there was a group of protesters with signs and details on the bad things Dow should be held responsible for. Both sides want publicity and they want good publicity; this is where two journalists, one for each, come in handy! Work together or equally with each side to make sure you are being fair and not going to make anyone mad. (For the full article about the protest, along with a picture gallery shot by yours truly, click the link here!)
  5. Be ready for any type of assignment, at any place, in any type of weather: It was Friday and I was really looking forward to the weekend and a bit of relaxation. As I was about to head out for lunch, my editor called with a surprise assignment… in an hour. When I found out what it was, I couldn’t pass it up and quickly drove to the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge to see something amazing. What wasn’t amazing was the weather: grey, cold and rainy. But seeing a male eagle released back into the wild is something rare and thrilling enough to forget the mud caking my boots and my hair whipping across my face, into my mouth and eyes. A key reminder for any journalists is to be prepared for anything; leave a pair of boots, a change of clothes and a warm, waterproof coat in the trunk of your car so you won’t get to miss seeing something like a wild animal taking off into the unknown and back to the habitat where it is supposed to be. To read the full article and see the amazing photos, click here!

I hope this advice has made sense! Feel free to comment or give me any feedback, whether on the article or if you have something you would like to add. Happy Mother’s Day to all and have a great weekend!

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2 Responses

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  1. Reading about your personal experience helps a little bit, because I’m nervous about the very idea of going into this business. I know I like to boast about becoming a journalist, almost in a childish way, too, but it can be scary.

    authorajpalm

    May 12, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    • Thanks for the comment, authorajpalm! It is nerve-wracking to go into journalism at a time when the business is changing so rapidly. It can be scary but that’s why I love it, because of the challenge. Keep checking back for more updates and feel free to leave any questions you would like, I’m always happy to give out advice since I am learning just like you!

      hayne2jr

      May 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm


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