What Does it Take?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Journalist Adam Wilson taught the importance of diversifying one's journalistic skills Tuesday evening, Oct. 4, to an aspiring journalist for Brian Steffen's Beginning Newswriting and Reporting course.

Stressing the importance of knowing all facets of journalism, Wilson, a Simpson alumnus and a group editor of the Des Moines Register Weeklies, provided many tips to aspiring journalists for how to be successful in journalism.

"You're either pitching an assignment or you're taking an assignment No. 1," Wilson said. "Either you bring me a story idea or I give you a story idea, and then I expect you to follow that through to deadline. So that's standard no matter where you go."

Taking this concept and applying it to the life of a student journalist may appear difficult. However, having graduated in the spring of 2002 with a major in mass comm journalism, Wilson is familiar with what it takes to combine the life of a student with the world of journalistic reporting.

"Student journalists are students, and then journalists," Wilson said. "Even if you want to become a professional journalist, and that's the path that you have chosen for your career, you still have a handful of classes that should also be your priority."

Nevertheless, in comparing the difference between student reporting and that of a paid professional, according to Wilson, there are still few variances between the two.

"No. 1, the biggest difference there is that you're going to class for a couple of hours a day, you're still expected to write your newspaper article or articles on deadline; so time management is huge there," Wilson said. "But then again, if you might have one or two story assignments a week as a student journalist, you're probably talking more like 10 or 12 as a professional journalist."

Later, Wilson emphasizes the necessity of meeting deadlines while once again highlighting the importance of time management. In doing so, he further displays the similarities between the student journalist and the professional.

"So that time management, you're managing different things," Wilson said, "but, if you're not organized you're not going to meet deadline; and whether you're a student journalist, or a professional journalist, or a freelancer or anything else, you're not going to have a job--or you're not going to keep a job very long--if you can't meet deadlines. Deadlines are key no matter what level you're at."

Even still, Wilson shows that there are yet several lessons to be learned as a student journalist that are significant in bettering a journalist in their field.

"When I started [at Simpson] I hadn't really ever been published," Wilson said. "We didn't have a school newspaper at my high school....I understood pretty quickly once I got to Simpson and started working for the newspaper, you have to really respect and understand the power of the words that you put together into a news story, because it's there forever."

Moreover, to be not only successful, but more valuable in the world of journalism, Wilson stresses to the aspiring journalist the ability to be able to do everything from writing to taking a photo.

"Don't just fancy yourself a writer," Wilson said. "Don't just concentrate on photography, don't just concentrate on videography. If you really want to be a commodity in the job market, you want to be able to be a good writer who can offer photography and videos to supplement their stories...The more that you can do and the more that you know, and the more that you can do well is just going to make you more successful...Learn every aspect and learn it well."

Photo: Courtesy of Adam Wilson


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