For Penn students interested in pursuing media careers, the evolving field of broadcast journalism just got a little less intimidating.
Two members of the nonstop news cycle visited McClelland Hall on Monday evening as part of the Tech Talk series run by the Office of College Houses and Academic Services . 2004 College graduate and producer for local news station PHL17 Mikaelyn Austin and reporter and anchor Zachery Lashway — who both work for PHL’s morning show, Eye Opener — discussed their careers in news media.
Their discussion ranged from the characteristics of successful members of news stations to the future of broadcast journalism itself.
Regarding the hiring process, Austin noted the importance of including a wide range of activities on a resume. She attributed her hiring at PHL17 to “a line in the bottom of [her] resume that said [she] played women’s semipro football.” She and the general manager bonded over their shared interest in football, leading to a smooth interview process.
“You’d be surprised what on your resume will bring you in [for a job],” Austin said.
Once hired, though, only hard work can lead to success, the speakers said.
“There are so many people in this business that aren’t willing to carry their own tripod or edit their own piece,” Lashway said. Noting the 14-hour workday he put in to cover Hurricane Sandy, Lashway added, “If you’re in [this] business for glamour, you’re in it for the wrong reasons.”
Austin and Lashway concluded their discussion with an analysis of the future of broadcast journalism, particularly regarding methods of reaching the target demographic — which they described as ideally being single, typically minority women between the ages of 25 and 54.
Noting that most college students are unlikely to watch the news between six to eight in the morning — Eye Opener’s airtime — the speakers acknowledged the difficulty of attracting younger viewers.
“We have very short attention spans,” Austin said of today’s youth, adding that a news station’s selection of coverage is all the more important.
Despite increasing knowledge of viewer demographics, however, Austin and Lashway noted the persisting difficulty of pinpointing stories that entice particular age groups.
"[It’s] hard to identify what moves that needle,” Lashway said.
Yet, social media — specifically Twitter — is contributing to a more interactive and self-selecting realm of news, where users pick and choose which news stories interest them.
Lashway said that he typically explores stories in depth after seeing concise headlines on social media.
“I get all breaking news via Twitter,” Lashway said.
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