Wise words from a fellow journalist

Tara Conry, a community journalist at Newsday, made a guest appearance in my JRN 320 class Friday morning. Even though she only arrived at 9am while the rest of the class was there since 8am, she gave some amazing advice and some practical knowledge.

She spoke a lot about how to land a job/internship, how to incorporate technology and how the news industry is changing, which was all very valuable and helpful for my future. However, she also made some comments that stuck with me more than the practical jargon. So here are my three take-aways that are more valuable than how to manage my work load:

DON’T BE AFRAID TO LOOK SILLY

I list this as my first lesson because I found it so liberating to hear. Especially in the School of Journalism, I feel like I’m in a constant competition with everyone else to look and act as professional as possible and produce this amazing, front page worthy stories. So I tend to avoid taking risks for fear of looking like a complete fool. But hearing Tara, a seasoned professional at a prominent publication, say that it’s okay to be silly, I let out a huge breath of relief. I really just need to take myself out of this dog-eat-dog scenario and do what I think will work best. I can always learn from my mistakes, but I can’t learn if I never try.

KEEP YOUR HUMANITY

This was another huge point for me. Whenever I tell family members I’m studying to be a journalist, they always seem so disappointed, saying our main goal is to exploit people at their most vulnerable moments. And not going to lie, the idea of one day having to fight with other news organizations to get a story from a mother who just lost their only child in a tragedy makes my skin crawl. But like Tara said, we just need to remember we’re human, and treat our subjects with the utmost respect. If I make myself respectable and empathetic, then I’m not exploiting anyone and I can be proud of myself and that mother can be proud of the story I write.

KEEP LEARNING, ALWAYS

I need to remember that getting this bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean I must know everything there is to know about journalism and the world. I need to be a sponge, whether it’s at my first internship or 30 years later. By constantly learning something new and being aware of the latest gizmo, gadget or whatever, I can never fall behind.

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