Starting at the Bottom

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When you prepare to start your first journalism career, keep in mind you might not experience the excitment and rush of adrenaline you were hoping to.

A starting career in journalism is often far from glamourous and looks more like the bottom of the food chain, even when for the biggest names in journalism.

Top journalist and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper for example, had a rough start to his later very successful career. Cooper's first job was a fact-checker for Channel One, a network who provided news to schools around the country.

Cooper soon became bored with his desk job and after being unable to obtain an interview with any major news network, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

With the help of a friend, Cooper forged a fake press pass and flew to Myanmar, Vietnam. Here he covered student riots that had taken place against the Burmese government. This coverage was later picked up by Channel One and aired, thus leading to Cooper's gradual climb up the food chain.

Anchor Katie Couric also had a slow start to her career. Her first job, an assistant at ABC, allowed her to do no more than brew coffee, answer phones, and make sandwiches for the network's anchors.

Couric then left ABC to work as a field reporter for the Cable News Network but was later released because a CNN executive found her "squeaky" voice to be annoying.

These two famous journalists show that while often you have to start at the bottom, hard work and overcoming obstacles like rejection usually will pay off in a successful career that you enjoy.

Journalists must have a true passion for what they do, and a dream that they are not willing to let go of without a fight. They must prove to themselves and to others that they have the ability to be a successful journalist.

For more information on how Anderson Cooper and Katie Couric climbed to success, visit the links on their names above.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons


Underdog Journalism

For journalists, having a Pulitzer Prize is being at the top of the mountain. It's the highest accomplishment one can have, but most claim only the ones who are associated with nationally renowned newspapers are the only ones who receive it.

That's about to change.

Poynter's Mallory Jean Tenore is asking the Twitter community to help nominate journalists who are worthy of a prestigious award, such as the Pulitzer. Tenore came up with the hashtag #bestoverlooked for those who wish to nominate pieces of extraordinary work. It can come from any type of media - print, online, TV and radio.

Categories for Best Overlooked include: Best Series, Best Site, and Best Curation.

There have been a few nominations being thrown into the hat on Twitter in each category but I don't think a few will be enough. If you have read something in the past that you thought was a brilliant piece of work, nominate it.

After all, we are all journalists trying to get our stories shared.

Photo Credit: Parker Duofold via Creative Commons


Reporting About Numbers

One of the greatest challenges that seems to face journalists is the ability to have or obtain a small amount of knowledge about everything.

This can be especially difficult when you're asked to write about something that you have little or no interest in-- for me, that area would be economics. While I recognize the importance of understanding the economy that I live in and know that it has very far reaching effects, I can't escape the bore of financial statistics and numbers reports.

Luckily, there are sources for journalists who have to follow a story that they have no interest in. I found one here about writing about economics.

The first thing that needs to be accomplished is getting an idea of which numbers in the reports are relevant to society, and are newsworthy. Figures about employment are always relevant, and many times the changes and fluctuations are newsworthy.

When reporting about unemployment, the rate of change should be reported. The demographics of the employed and the unemployed can also be very newsworthy if they're changing, or if there is some recognizable desparity that may be indicative of a larger social issue.

Journalists can also look to stories about interest rates, since even changes within the interest rates banks get can come to effect everyday people trying to obtain loans.

The release from meetings about federal interest rates are available here, after the eight annual sessions. An important questions to ask is who voted for which increases or decreases.

The facts surrounding motivations for increases and decreases in federal interest rates are also important. Increases mean that there is no attempt to directly stimuate economic growth through loans, while a decrease in rates means the opposite.

Information related to consumption is important to readers, especially considering the crazy amount that we as citizens of the United States consume.

The Consumer Price Index and the Consumer Confidence ratings are both great places to start a story. The confidence index can also be related to information about employment in a longer feature story.

Stories about the housing market are also good economical stories. Look for answers about the prices of homes in a given area, who's moving into the homes, or for comparison rates between different housing markets.

Photo courtesy of on Flickr, via


  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP