1. Talking to strangers
This might sound obvious, but when you’re standing in Kenmore Square on assignment to talk to five strangers, it can be very intimidating. The truth is that most people will give you their time if you identify yourself as a reporter and are respectful of their personal space and opinions. That said, you’re going to get rejected, sometimes with a polite “I don’t have time, sorry,” and sometimes with any number of rude gestures. Subway stations and bus stops are great places to find strangers who have nothing to do but talk to you anyway.
2. Phone calls
You can’t interview everyone in person — in fact, you can’t interview most people in person. A lot of the reporting process is spent on the phone, which means phone anxiety has to go. I came to college with major phone anxiety (I think it’s common for people our age), and the first time I had to call a source for a Daily Free Press article, I was terrified. Phone calls are awkward, and depending on who you’re calling, they can be intimidating. Just remember to talk clearly, listen closely, and offer verbal affirmation that you’re listening every 10-20 seconds. You’ll be dialing like a pro in no time.
It’s the only way you get better. You might come into COM as a first-year thinking you know how write a good news story, but chances are you’ll be amazed (like I was) at how you actually don’t. COM, and all the extracurriculars that go along with it, are full of people who have climbed the ladders and done the nitty-gritty and want to help you succeed. Take advantage of them and the feedback they give you.
I want to be a White House reporter one day, and maybe you do too, and so do a thousand other people, but not all of us can do it. There are a TON of jobs in journalism (despite what your parents might be telling you) across an incredible array of areas. That said, you don’t get a job just because you want it (insightful, I know). Competition for internships and jobs is palpable, but I think in some ways that’s a good thing. It encourages you to push yourself to better.
5. Anti-journalism rhetoric
People will argue that journalism is dying, but I’d argue that journalism has never been stronger. I know people whose parents hate that they’re studying to be a journalist, because they don’t believe the profession is noble or fair. And even a cursory scroll through Twitter will show you that it’s far more popular now to say “fake news” than it is to actually read news articles. You have to take anti-journalism rhetoric in stride, and use it to motivate yourself to be the best, most accurate, most factual reporter you can be.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.