Author and Media Veteran Pamela Burke: Five Things You Need To Thrive & Succeed As A Journalist

Yitzi Weiner
Apr 22 · 7 min read

I urge them to pursue it with great gusto. We need more dedicated journalists who care about discovering truths and introducing us to people and issues that are important to the development of our world. It’s with their eyes and observations we can connect with others and begin to understand how to make positive change happen.

amela Burke is the founder of The Women’s Eye and author of 20 Women Changemakers: Taking Action Around the World and her second anthology 20 Women Storytellers-Taking Action with Powerful Words and Images, available anywhere books are sold on May 1st, 2021. She has served as a producer and/or executive for NBC; LIFETIME Cable Network; USA Network; USA TODAY–The Television Show; King World and CBS; A&E Cable Network; and DISCOVERY Planet Green.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series Pamela! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

have always wanted to be in journalism in whatever capacity that I could. Ever since I founded a neighborhood newspaper at age 8, I knew it was my calling. My curiosity level is enormous and I thought that interviewing people and telling their stories somehow would introduce me to the world, and I could change it in some positive way.

I have had the good fortune of working for print magazines and broadcasting companies as a reporter, bureau chief, television producer and executive producer. From LIFE Magazine to NBC-TV to, now, my own online magazine and podcasts, each phase of my working career has been a joy and a tremendous learning experience.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

There have been so many it’s hard to pick out one. A particular story I will never forget is interviewing Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed one of the first successful polio vaccines. I spoke to him and his wife, Francoise Gilot, the French painter who had a long relationship with Picasso, at their home on the coast of Southern California. I remember asking him how he discovered the vaccine I had been given as a child and that the world had been waiting for. He said, “The answers are all out there. You just have to find them and put the pieces together.” I’ve always remembered his words of wisdom: You can find anything if you search hard enough.

Can you share the funniest mistake that you made when you first started? Can you share the lesson you learned from it?

I learned a good lesson when I was not as gracious as I could have been. I was producing a particularly challenging television show when someone on the staff interrupted me and said it was urgent I go to a meeting. I told them it was impossible, that I was under great pressure, and couldn’t possibly attend. After a difficult conversation with them, I sullenly relented…and finally went to the “meeting.” It turned out to be a surprise happy birthday party for me with a singing, presents, and cake. I learned that staffs care, and one should always make time to have fun.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We are about to publish our second anthology, 20 Women Storytellers-Taking Action with Powerful Words and Images, which includes our interviews with 20 inspiring journalists, photographers, documentarians, and bloggers whom we have culled from our website. Each one of these women have been involved in fascinating projects and tell stories which connect our world in positive ways.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I have dealt with many people whom I have found interesting in my career. One that stands out is John Lennon of Beatles’ fame whom I had the pleasure of producing as a guest on NBC’s Tomorrow Show. We were able to air one of his last interviews. It took me two years of diligent work to get the phone call that confirmed he would be delighted to join us. In an empty studio in New York City with him and our host Tom Snyder, he talked about how he was fighting a deportation order to stay in the U. S. and more in our one-hour broadcast. He couldn’t have been more humble and willing to share his life story…a true pleasure to meet.

Others include Jane Fonda, Coretta Scott King and many interesting people you may never had heard of.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in journalism?

I urge them to pursue it with great gusto. We need more dedicated journalists who care about discovering truths and introducing us to people and issues that are important to the development of our world. It’s with their eyes and observations we can connect with others and begin to understand how to make positive change happen.

What advice would you give to your colleagues in the industry, to thrive and not “burnout”?

In my experience, it has been a profession that requires endless working hours. I remember sleeping in my office during the time when we were covering the riots in Los Angeles. You have to learn to pace yourself. When you have any time off, make sure you get away from the job and social media so that you can be refreshed with eyes wide open when you begin again.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

My current project, The Women’s Eye website, books and podcasts, aims to give the spotlight to people who are making a difference in the world. These are, in most cases, women who have a dream, an idea, a passion to find solutions big and small to make the universe a better place. We do other stories which I feel will appeal to our readers, but our main focus is spreading positive experiences that inspire and lead to the greater good.

I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?

I have a passion to tell stories and to do what I can to connect people. By telling these stories and doing our interviews, our readers and podcast listeners can see how change happens and how, by working together, we can make progress that benefits people around the globe.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

The book I am reading now is impacting my life. In Between Two Kingdoms, Suleika Jaouad describes going through a grueling cancer journey, one that I can’t imagine enduring, and how she survived against all odds. She details the trip she took around the country after her recovery to visit the people who took time to write to her in the hospital. Her journey reminds me how important it is to reach out to those who care for and about you and to spread messages of hope and renewal.

Ok wonderful. Thank you for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1 To understand that there will always be jobs available if you search long and hard. In the world of media, magazines, newspapers, and television programs come and go, sometimes when you least expect it. I never thought LIFE Magazine would go out of business as a weekly. It did. I mourned. But, I found another job that was a great challenge and never looked back.

2. Make good contacts from day one on your job. It’s so important to be kind and open to people you work with. In most cases, you will meet them later on in your professional life and they can help you and you them.

3. Take a good, deep breath when work is overwhelming. One time when we were experiencing a 6.7 earthquake that damaged my home and those of the staff, I did not think it was possible we could cover the breaking stories being assigned at breathtaking speed. We did…once we all gathered, centered ourselves and calmly worked out our personal and professional issues.

4. Don’t give up on a story. Usually there’s a way to tell it…it might not be the way you were originally planning to, but in many cases, it can have the same impact.

5. Be passionate about your work. I remember when I was 8 and knocking on doors for my newspaper interviews how rewarding it was when a neighbor would talk to me. I try not to forget that excitement as I continue to pursue this profession.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I care that people, especially women during this pandemic when employment has been tenuous, are employed if they need and want a job. I hear that all the time how frustrating a job search can be online. There has to be a better, more productive and personal way to connect people to the job market. I would start with some kind of well-organized National Find-a-Job Hotline…and go from there.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

There are many but one person I admire is Melinda Gates. She continues to try to change the world and find solutions by lifting women up. Her newest book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World inspires me to continue to do what I can to lift and reminds me how important it is to connect and help others.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

The Women’s Eye is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/thewomenseye

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/TheWomensEye/

INSTAGRAM: @thewomenseye

WEBSITE: https://www.thewomenseye.com/

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Yitzi Weiner

Written by

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Yitzi Weiner

Written by

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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