I was glad to have to complete informational interviews for this assignment as it is something I am already quite familiar with. Because a lot of careers in journalism start from referrals and references, I have been working to connect with as many Michigan Daily alumni as possible, as well as connect with those in the field currently doing exactly what I would like to be doing. I’ve already established that I want to be involved with a print publication as long as possible, of course while learning online news. I also know I am especially interested in health and science reporting, particularly with regard to innovations and research in the medical and engineering fields. I think this type of reporting will remain relevant as technology continues to become more dominant in our daily lives and throughout various industries.
For my first informational interview outside of Channel 4, I decided to connect with and speak to a Detroit News features reporter, who coincidentally was a Daily editor throughout her time at the University of Michigan. This reporter covered many similar things that I have while at the Daily with regard to University research, and now focuses her work on new development and features throughout Detroit. I actually received her name and contact information first from another well-known reporter and Daily-affiliate that I talk to. When I contacted the Detroit News reporter, I received positive feedback immediately. She was extremely willing to speak and meet with me and had a great perspective on news today, especially in the city. This Detroit News reporter has been in the field for a few years now, and has tried multiple different and well-respected news organizations throughout her career, first starting as an intern on the East Coast and eventually, coming home to Detroit. She has been published in a number of publications and, though still quite young, has had to adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of a newsroom. Though she had been an editor on the Daily less than 10 years ago, she mentioned mediums such as Twitter were not nearly as prevalent as they are now – just one example of a new technology she had to learn in order to adapt to industry changes.
I wanted to meet with this Detroit News reporter because I was familiar with her work, we have a university and newspaper in common with the Daily, she works right outside my hometown (a place where I hope to kick-start my career following graduation) and she is familiar with the type of reporting I want to do. I am honored and so happy that she was willing to speak with me in more recent months, and that she is great to stay in touch with! In fact, I’ll also see her this upcoming fall at the Michigan Daily alumni weekend, along with several of her colleagues in the field that she can introduce me to. Not only does she have great advice, she is honest and encouraging and knows a lot of other amazing reporters.
I learned that I need to continue to be persistent throughout my career, and that I cannot be stubborn in terms of innovation. I have to be open-minded and be willing to try new technologies and new ways of reporting. I have to continue to use social media and connect with others. I might have to do video reporting or broadcast, and I most certainly will have to familiarize myself with online reporting more and more. I learned that internships are pretty available, but applying my experiences in my internships to a full-time position later on is more difficult. I learned that I won’t always be at the top and I might be working later and longer hours than expected sometimes, but that’s okay – I’m interested in this field for a reason, and I’m excited to stick with it. And, with each person I talk to in the field – whether a photojournalist at Channel 4 or someone I am networking with – I continue to learn that despite popular belief, journalists, too, are human! This is something that has been especially important to me lately as I learn that, while it is good to be dedicated to my career and care about the things I report, it is also acceptable to be human.
The Detroit News reporter had great recommendations in terms of my last 4 semesters at the University. She majored in the same major I am planning to declare in the fall (Communications) and recommended I try to pair this with another major or minor that would give me a specific area in which to focus my reporting. Because I just decided to declare a minor in Environmental Science, this was great to hear! From this meeting, I gleaned the importance of networking and gaining good experiences, and while I don’t necessarily think I want to start off in broadcast, it is a great experience to see the differences between TV and print production.