What a new journalist needs

Jessica Chapin has been on the job at WMBB-TV in Panama City, Fla. for a little more than six months now. We asked her to think about what she’s already learned at work, what part of her education has helped the most and what else she needed while still in school:

1. What do you wish you had learned more about in college to help you prepare for the job?

“More tips on how to gather and maintain contacts for beats. It may be the new location, but I felt like it took awhile for me to get really comfortable with my sources.”

2. What did you learn/do in school that has really helped you in the job?

“Day-ofs! (These are story assignments given to students at 9 a.m. in the morning with the expectation that they will have completed a TV news package by 6 p.m.) It really helps prepare you for working on deadline in real-world time.”

3. What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned on the job?

“How to be flexible! I’ve learned to be creative at the last minute to get the information or video I need to finish a story.

4. What’s the worst thing about the job?

“Finding out I was very spoiled in college with wonderful working gear and equipment! In a small station, it’s sometimes a battle for gear and photogs.”

5. What’s the best thing about the job?

“The best thing is the excitement! Nothing can beat the rush of breaking news, live shots and meeting new people.”

6. How does the Web play into your daily routine?

“I write Web versions of my stories EVERY DAY, even the VOs and VOBs. I try to include more details in the text, I always post an image and video and link to any organizations involved that have Web sites and provide PDFs of any documents referenced. We have to write preview articles before we go out on a story and then post full articles at the end of the day.”

We’d love to hear more from other newbie journalists, too! Let us know what challenges you’ve faced in your new job as well as how your education helped you or what you wish you’d learned more about at school.

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