By Ana Gabriela García
Earlier today at 12 o’clock, the students of Janna Anderson, professor of communications at Elon University, transformed their classroom into a makeshift conference room and vigorously typed down the anecdotes, advice, and insights of seasoned professional Michael Clemente, Ken White and Jack Mackenzie.
Micheal Clemente is a former vice president of FOX News Network, and a news network executive at ABC and FOX. After seven years in Fox, Clemente decided to start his own company, Point West Media, a consultant company that designs strategies for TV, online and digital companies.
Ken White, a former news director at Fox Charlotte and WOWK-TV in Charleston, West Virginia, is currently a television news consultant. From 2003 to 20007, White served as president of the Radio Television News Director Association of the Carolinas. He has also been awarded various Emmys and Associated Press Awards.
Jack Mackenzie is the executive vice president of Penn Schoen Berland (PSB). PSB is a global research-based consultancy, which focuses on creating messaging and communications strategy for corporate, political and entertainment clients.
“I will say this, I’m a cheerleader for what you’re thinking of going into. When you do this kind of thing you’ll learning all the time.”
– Michael Clemente
When speaking generally about journalism and reporting, Clemente told students that the most important thing is thinking clearly and being accurate. It is good to be drawn to a good story, he says, but always tell yourself: “That’s a good story if it’s true.”
Meanwhile, White decided to quote an analogy of one of his colleagues and friends, Tom Brokaw, who said, “If you’re a journalist of any type, you are basically. A first-class passenger who really deserves to be in coach.” Although White says it is amazing to meet famous people and go to important national and international events, he advised students to always keep in mind the responsibilities and duties of a journalist, which is chiefly to report back to their audience.
Jack Mackenzie took this opportunity to explain to students the influence of local television and how this reflects political, social and cultural trends in America. He was eager to remind students that the ten o’clock news is the most watched television program in America. He goes into more detail in the video below:
On the topic of actually writing articles and producing broadcast media, White argued that ‘Context is Key’ has beat out the rule “content is key,” that for so many years had been the guiding principle of journalism everywhere. There is an abundance of media always feeding large audiences information 24-7. right now it is more important to put events and disasters, especially those that affect domestic and foreign affairs and security.
It as important to inform one’s audience as it is to educate them. A journalist can’t simply reinforce what they want to hear, or mold news coverage around the ideologies of this or her audience.
Clemente agreed with White, referring to the term, ‘Masters of the Obvious’ and reiterating that journalists must ask themselves if what they’re reporting is ‘new,’ and not just another addition to a 24-hour news cycle. Always try to inform people of something they have never heard before.
The most popular advice among both White and Mackenzie was to be oneself and to be unique when reporting. They said it was more than okay to show ones real emotions, especially in broadcast journalism, and in doing so presented one’s audience with an original voice and writing style.
“They don’t want another one of us- they want you. Don’t parody anybody else that you see, be yourself. I want you and your voice. Be yourself with whatever your doing. We want your image.”
– Kent White
Each reporter also outlined the work qualities and capabilities that they were looking for when hiring students straight out of colleges. These are some of the advice they gave:
- Be “young, scrappy and hungry.”- Hamilton, the Musical This, Mackenzie says, are always good things to be, and are more preferable than someone who believes themselves to be deserving of their job solely because of their qualified and educated, not because of their passion.
- Communicate how you feel and what you think big issues are. Say something employers wouldn’t expect someone young would talk about. Or write something thoughtful on your LinkedIn page.
- Make yourself useful and be willing to do anything. This means to step up and go beyond the tasks that were given to you.
- Be interesting and have personality. “If you make yourself interesting, people will be interested in you.” It’s as simple as that, says Clemente.
- Be nice to everyone in the workplace. Be someone people want to have around them, someone that relieves workplace stress and tension.
- Give your ideas. Knowing something a little more than you can add to a story, something that is past the obvious will make you seem interesting and clever.
- Be authentic. Never solely focus on being famous, successful or rich.
- Customize your cover letter. Write a letter that reflects what you know about the company, that shows your interest in them and the research you did.
- Be creative. Because this never hurts.
“Journalism is the opportunity to see the world at its best moments and share it with others.”
– Michael Clemente