The journalism industry is ever-growing and changing quickly. With less support from institutions, those working in the media industry are concerned about the balance between working hard, engaging in personal branding and the idea of being an entrepreneur. Many who are involved in media know that it is a very competitive industry to be part of, with the enlarging size of social media platforms dwarfing traditional news companies and also, blogging being a new prospect for the future.
However, we can always be certain on the fact that journalism will be a significant part of our lives in the future. Our ability to access new information and ideas, brought by well-written and compelling sources, truly is a remarkable example of the opportunities which journalism can provide. Having worked in journalism from covering news on NBC to building ReportHers, Jessica Glazer is now a podcast producer for Fusion Media. Here, Jessica uncovers her advice for aspiring journalists and discusses her experiences when working in the journalism industry.
1 | What do you do as a journalist daily?
I have a new position as a podcast producer for Fusion Media. Each day is different. I am working on developing a few narrative podcast series right now, so my job is part reporter, part coordinator, and part editorial. As reporter, I research and pitch story ideas for episodes or series, and I go out to do field production. As coordinator, I book and record interviews in the studio, send out tape for transcription, make sure people we hire send in invoices for their work and keep files organized (audio, transcriptions, notes, scripts). And for the editorial part, I help make decisions from a higher level about how to structure series and episodes, what to include and cut out.
I have had jobs in journalism that have looked very different than this one. For example, I worked as an education reporter for a small startup where I was reporting and writing every day, including producing videos from start to finish. In another position a few years ago, I was a multimedia producer at NBC covering breaking news. That meant that whenever any major news event happened, like a terrorist attack, mass shooting, major political news, etc. I was posting and cutting videos and creating interactive graphics on very short deadlines. This was mostly from the office. I helped publish and cut material that came from NBC affiliates and other subscription services like AP Video.
2 | What made you go into journalism as a career and how did you first start going about being a journalist?
I accidentally fell into journalism. My first experience was interning for a local newspaper in the Bronx in New York, called the Norwood News. I learned that I loved going out and talking to people, and discovering new things in the process. I also loved writing and storytelling. Working in journalism has let me explore the world in a way I wouldn’t likely be able to if I had another kind of job. I worked at that internship at the Norwood News throughout college, plus I edited and wrote a column for my college paper.
After college, the economy had crashed and I couldn’t find a job in journalism, so I worked in marketing and freelanced on the side, publishing pieces whenever I could, which was not very frequently. A few years later, I decided to go back to school to learn multimedia skills like video and interactive graphic storytelling. I saw that the field was moving fast towards multimedia skills and I wanted to position myself to get a full time job in journalism. I went to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. A lot of younger journalists starting out will already have a lot of the skills I learned in grad school, which for me acted as a way to help me pivot from one career to another (marketing to journalism).
3 | How do you approach writing a new story or article? What sort of research and information do you need to obtain?
There are two ways I’d start on a new assignment. Either my editor assigns me something, or I am researching a story to pitch it to my editor. In either case, I first need to know that the story hasn’t already been covered. If it has, I have to justify what my new angle is. Maybe I am writing for a local publication and my angle on a national news story is how it impacts the local community. Or maybe there is an angle that hasn’t been covered yet. Then, I start to read up and identify who I want to talk to. Which experts, which people with a different opinion on the matter, etc. I also want to be able to answer the question “Who cares” or “Why are we writing about this now?” If I can’t answer those questions, it will make my reporting and writing much muddier and maybe the story isn’t even relevant or interesting. I always look for human stories and anecdotes that exemplify the story I’m trying to tell. This gives readers a way in, a way to connect.
4 | What is your most enjoyable aspect of being a journalist and how does that shape up with some of the least enjoyable aspects?
I love exploring the world, that is why I love journalism. No matter how well you research something or someone, when you actually go out into the world to report something (even if you are just making phone calls from your office) you never actually know what someone will say or what their perspective will be until you ask. You can assume nothing. This makes being in journalism incredibly exciting. I also love technical aspects of journalism, from structuring a written piece to editing audio in Pro Tools.
5 | What advice would you give for younger journalists or those thinking about journalism as a career?
My advice would be: You have to know how to hustle to be a journalist. This might mean simple problem solving, like figuring out how to find a phone number or how to get an interview with someone. Or it might mean thinking creatively about a new angle that no one else is thinking about. Or being very fast at providing solid, fact-checked information on a tight deadline. Or being able to shift gears when the plan changes last minute. Before you have a lot of skill and experience you can get ahead by being a problem solver and self-starter in your internships and early jobs. This will go a long way throughout your career. Also, don’t plagiarize. Ever.
6 | With major advances in technology and a greater range of opportunities for journalists to showcase their content, with the likes of not only independent outlets but also platforms such as Medium, where do you see the future of journalism?
It’s hard to know where the future of journalism will take us. What I do know is that you have to be nimble. And that the industry is small and people know each other, so make and keep friends. Treat people well. This is a competitive field but people help each other as well. Also, learning to pick up a new program or way to tell stories is a useful skill as things evolve. So is being willing to experiment with storytelling.
7 | ReportHers is a very exciting platform to access interviews and Q&A's from reporters. What made you come up with the idea and where do you see it going?
I came up with the idea with a few classmates for a grad school assignment. I saw that there was a hunger for women’s voices about their experiences in the workforce and in life. I continued it because it provided me a reason to email people I idolize, and a way for me to ask them questions and learn from them. Almost no one has ever said no to being interviewed. I think that’s because I made the process as easy and predictable as possible, made it clear that I had done some research into their work, and showed a genuine interest. You can do this, too, very easily. Pick a website name and a free hosting platform and start conducting interviews. Or pick some other idea that will help you stand out and give you something to talk about in interviews. It doesn’t have to be complicated. As for where I see ReportHers going, I have at different points envisioned a larger website, a podcast, and live events. The truth is, it’s a side project that I don’t have a lot of extra time for so I’ve readjusted my goals to publish a few interviews a year. I’d be happy with that.
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