59 Women In Journalism Share Their Top 5 Tips To Excel As A Journalist

Yitzi Weiner
Mar 6, 2018 · 125 min read
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By Yitzi Weiner and Daniele Robay

This week we will celebrate International Women’s Day. Over the past 100 years, women have made great strides and have broken many barriers. However as we celebrate these accomplishments, we still have to acknowledge the fact that we still have a long way to go to achieve parity and equality between the sexes. Even in 2017, women generally make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes.

In the article below we want to acknowledge the accomplishments of nearly “60 Women in Journalism”. We asked each of them to share their top suggestions to succeed as a journalist.

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Charanna ( C.K.) Alexander Jean Writer and Web Producer at The New York Times

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My Background

Charanna Alexander Jean is a New York based Wedding and Lifestyle reporter with a passion for writing, relationships and love. She is a web producer and writer for the Society/ Styles section of The New York Times. She is also the Senior Features Editor for Black Bride Magazine, a digital publication for multicultural brides. Writing is not a hobby for the young entrepreneur. Writing is her passion and love is her purpose. Charanna is also the owner and founder of Love Ink, a special occasion writing and coaching service that assists couples and individuals with writing personalized messages to loved ones. This ambitious writer, born in Los Angeles and raised in New York, studied Journalism at Howard University in Washington D.C. and received her masters in Digital Media at Columbia University in New York.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Read Every Day

Whether you are a seasoned journalist or just starting out in the game, it’s important to read what other people are writing. Reading often not only keeps you abreast of what’s going on in the world, it can also help to define your style.

2. Write Every Day

The more you write the better you get. I’ve found that by writing every day I’ve experienced a newly found fluidity to my writing style.

3. Own Your Voice

The art of storytelling can be taught, but your personal writing style is unique and it stems from your experiences, your personality, your influencers, and all of those things combined is what makes your style unique. Own it. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you need to adjust your style of writing. What you may need to adjust is where you are writing.

4. Write About What You Care About

Passion cannot be faked. I am passionate about love and relationships and my goal as a reporter is to tell the stories that move me. If you are inspired by the subject, chances are you’ll inspire others by writing about it.

5. Have Integrity

It’s very easy to fall into the murky waters of fabricated news, sources, and stories. However, if you want longevity in your career it’s important to have integrity. Triple check your facts, vet your sources and always tell the truth. Question what you’ve heard and question what you’ve seen. Remember it is our job to report on the news, not create it.

Kelly Phillips Erb, Senior Editor, Forbes

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My Background

Kelly Phillips Erb is a Senior Editor at Forbes Media, LLC where she writes about tax and tax policy, including tax-related security & technology issues. Ms. Erb also serves as Of Counsel to the Erb Law Firm, PC where her primary practice area is tax law.

Kelly has published four books together with Forbes. Kelly authors the popular Taxgirl column for Forbes.com; the blog has been recognized by the ABA Journal as one of the top 100 blogs written by lawyers and in 2013, was named to the Blawg Hall of Fame. Kelly has also written about taxes for publications including Money Magazine, US News & World Report, Reuters, and Time, and has been tapped for her ability to explain taxes in plain English by a number of outlets, including Wharton School of Pennsylvania Radio, Esquire, Marie Claire, and National Public Radio’s Marketplace.

In 2012, Kelly was named as a Philadelphia “”40 Under 40"” by the Philadelphia Business Journal. The 40 Under 40 award, then in its 22nd year, recognizes young professionals in the Delaware Valley for outstanding success and contributions to their community. In 2013, she was named as a one of 23 Main Line Today’s “”Power Women”” which celebrates women making an impact in the region. Kelly received the inaugural award for the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Solo and Small Firm Section; the award, which was based on nominations from her colleagues, was presented at the PBA Annual Meeting in May 2014. In 2016, Kelly was named as one of the inaugural “Women of Legal Tech” by the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center for her contributions in the legal tech space.

For years, Kelly mixed writing with lawyering, authoring the tech column for PA Lawyer magazine and serving on the Pennsylvania Bar Association Editorial Committee.

Kelly is a graduate of Meredith College and earned her law degree and her Masters of Law in Taxation from Temple University School of Law. She lives and works in southeastern Pennsylvania. Kelly is also a mom to three children, so she can add “costume maker,” “cupcake baker” and “hockey mom” to her resume.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Be authentic. In an era of cries of “fake news,” readers want sources they can trust. I earn that trust by being relatable. I don’t just write about taxes, I pay taxes, too. Drawing on my own experience helps me be a credible source. So yes, that means when I got audited, I wrote about that, too.

Be accessible. When I was in high school, I marched down to the local newspaper and asked for a job. I got one: answering phones. I was the first contact that many readers ever had with the press. I learned to listen to readers and to be responsive. To this day, I answer my phone, I respond to questions and feedback from my readers, and I engage on social.

Be bold. When I first started writing about tax, many tax columns were written at a high level, often citing legal precedent and complicated statutory language. Why, I wondered, can’t you offer high-level tax information written in terms that a broader audience can understand? I was warned that straying from an established formula would end in disaster, but I stuck to my guns.

Be specific. While there is a space for generalists in journalism, establishing yourself in a niche can open doors. My passion is tax law and tax policy, so that’s what I write. I don’t dip my toes in markets or funds unless there’s a tax angle. You might think that’s limiting, but it’s had the opposite effect: It’s allowed me to establish myself as an authority in the space and to cultivate a network of sources. While I’m always learning, I don’t scramble: I stay in my swim lane.

Be useful. I’m often asked about making the switch from law to journalism. My aim in both careers was the same: I wanted to be useful. I’m a problem solver. In my legal practice, I focused on helping taxpayers with planning and compliance issues. So many of those taxpayers were in difficult situations because they didn’t have access to good information. My focus at Forbes has been to change that: I break down sophisticated concepts into manageable pieces so that readers have the information they need — whether to protect themselves from tax-related ID thefts and scams, prepare their own taxes or simply ask the right questions.

Leslie Marshall, Nationally Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Fox News Contributor

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My Background

Leslie Marshall is a Political Analyst, Nationally Syndicated Radio Talk Host & a Fox News Contributor who provides political analysis from a liberal point of view. .

She is seen regularly on “”Special Report w Bret Baier,”” “”Hannity,”” “”Tucker Carlson Tonight,”” “” The Ingraham Angle,”” The Story with Martha McCallum,”” “”Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream,”” “”Americas Newsroom, “” “”The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino,”” and “”Happening Now. “” She also co hosts “”Outnumbered”” on the network on occasion. Leslie writes a political blog column for The Huffington Post.

The youngest woman to have been syndicated nationally in talk radio, she was voted one of the Hottest Liberal Political Talkers by The Washington Times and one of the Most Influential women by “”The Magazine.”” She’s a sought after speaker who recently did a Ted Talk in Morocco on ‘How America Views Islam.”” She was awarded the AILA (American Immigration Lawyer’s Association) “”Excellence in Journalism”” award.

Leslie has lent her talents to the big screen as well, most recently appearing in the feature film “”The App,”” in the role of Becky, ironically a talk host.

Originally from Boston, Leslie holds a Bachelor of Science from Northeastern University in Speech Communications and attended Emerson College for her Masters in Broadcast Journalism. She currently serves as an Ambassador for Northeastern University.

Although she has traveled extensively and lived in countries such as Pakistan, Israel and Mexico, she now calls Los Angeles home with her husband and their two children: her son who was adopted from Pakistan and her daughter who was conceived after 13 IVF cycles.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist


Obtaining an education is key. I attended Northeastern University studying speech communications because I wanted to get into media. Then I entered the Master’s program at Emerson college in Broadcast Journalism. This not only gives you the tools, but lets you practice at a school newspaper, blog, website, TV or radio station.


This requires volunteering, interning, etc. Former talk host Larry King told me he wanted to get into radio so bad he’d be willing to sweep the floors at a radio station. Now I’m not suggesting that. But I’m suggesting getting ahead of others who’ll eventually be your competitors. Internships are more than getting coffee. It lets you see how things work in the real world and you can make great contacts.


If you want to be a journalist & show up to a job interview not knowing the latest, breaking news; you might as well stay home. This is a very tough field to get into. Competition is fierce; so you have to be. You’ll be a better journalist if you familiarize yourself with the news; after all that is what you want to write about or report on. And, you’ll impress your future employer.


I married at 34 & had kids later in life. I””m not suggesting you do this. But like the Don Henley song you have to ask yourself- “”How badly do you want it?”” I’m from Boston.When I couldn’t get a job there after college, I moved a lot. 9 cities in 11 years! My point ? Be willing to move to do the job. That includes small cities. Becoming a big fish in a smaller market allowed me to go to a top ten market & then eventually to syndication. Lots of people in this business limit their opportunities if they choose not to move away from home.


In order to appeal to your audience; whether viewers, listeners or readers; you need to be yourself. But, you also have to be different. If you’re doing a piece on immigration for example, what are you saying that is different on the subject matter that interests me? That sets you apart from the next person on the dial? What prevents me from flipping the page ? You need to ask yourself that.

Darsha Philips, Broadcast Journalist, KABC-TV Los Angeles

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My Background

As a Broadcast Reporter for KABC-TV in Los Angeles, Darsha has been on the forefront of many of the biggest local and national stories.

Born to Sri Lankan parents, Darsha soon realized there were not a lot of people who looked like her on TV. Although this presented some hurdles in her career, Darsha embraced the challenge and began to champion for opportunities in journalism for young women of all backgrounds. Darsha has led numerous diversity panels, encouraged youth through her many motivational speeches and volunteered her time at underprivileged schools. One of her most honored experiences has been mentoring dozens of young journalist as they navigate the waters of this sometimes difficult and daunting business to land their first jobs. Darsha connects her achievements with helping others realize their true potential: “it is wonderful to achieve your dreams and successes but in order to really make a difference you have to inspire others to pursue the honest and accurate work of being a journalist and continue to champion for opportunities for the underrepresented parts of our communities. I may be the first female Sri Lankan –American broadcast journalist in Los Angeles, but I will make sure I am not the last.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

As a journalist you have to be determined. This business isn’t easy. There will be many mistakes, many doors slammed in your face, promotions you do not get, good bosses, bad bosses, tough criticism — the list goes on and on. You have to know who you are and be confident enough to keep going after what you want. This also translates out on the field. Whether you are in a room with the mayor, the governor or the president you have to ask the tough questions and be ready to report on the tough answers.

While dogged determination goes a long way when covering a story, it means nothing without compassion. Be human. Remember the stories you are covering are about real people with real families who experience real pain and loss. As journalists some degree of separation from a story is needed, but completely detaching means losing the most important and vulnerable part of the story.

Be honest. Your job is about telling the truth. When you make a mistake — and you will make mistakes- own up to it and correct it. The best thing you can do as a journalist is be straightforward about what you see and let the story reveal itself. The pressures of making deadline and getting a great story will be enormous. Do not compromise your integrity for something sensational or dishonest.

Work on your writing. I don’t care how good you look or sound on TV if you can’t write a good story you won’t go far in this business. As an intern I used to take articles from the LA Times, rewrite them into news scripts and practice reading them in front of a mirror. Writing for TV, in general, is more conversational and more concise than writing for print. However you still have to manage to engage your viewer and hit all the important elements of the story in a limited time frame. This isn’t easy to do so practice, practice, practice.

My last tip, and likely the most important: believe in yourself. It is truly amazing the things we can accomplish when we just believe we can do something. Believing in yourself means taking risks, and embracing your failures. Every successful person on this planet has failed a few times along the way. I credit my failures for all of my successes. Without adversity I would never know my strength. Learn from your setbacks and never give up. Emerge stronger and wiser, armed with the knowledge not that you failed, but that you survived.

Shanon Lee, Contributor for The Lily at The Washington Post and Healthline.com

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My Background

Shanon Lee is a Survivor Activist & Storyteller with features on HuffPost Live, The Wall Street Journal, TV One and the REELZ Channel’s SCANDAL MADE ME FAMOUS. Her work appears in The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Playboy, ELLE, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and Redbook. Shanon is a Women’s Media Center SheSource Expert and an official member of the Speakers Bureau for RAINN and the NCADV.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

There is an abundance of information available regarding how to be a journalist — do not overanalyze it. What works for someone else may not work for you, so you must follow your own path. Be willing to do the work and run your own race. Do not be concerned about what the next person is doing, if an opportunity is meant for you it will happen. You should also create your own opportunities.

Suzanne Sena, Anchor/Host, Fast Profits with Money Morning; Founder, Sena-Series Media Training

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My Background

Suzanne Sena is an Emmy-nominated television host, national news anchor, entertainment reporter, critically-acclaimed actress, author, and entrepreneur. Currently the Anchor/Host of Fast Profits with Money Morning, and known for her work as a Breaking News Anchor on cable’s Fox News Channel, Sena started her career as an entertainment reporter working for E! Entertainment Television. While there, she was a correspondent for E! News, received an Emmy-nomination for hosting Celebrity Homes, and created, produced and hosted a lifestyle interview show called Out to Lunch. After several years working in entertainment, Sena became an anchor/reporter for CBS News, which led to her position as a breaking news anchor at FNC. Then, in an interesting twist of fate, she went on to portray an anchor, Brooke Alvarez on the comedic TV series, “”Onion News Network.

In addition to being an anchor/reporter, Sena is the Founder of the award-winning Sena-Series Media Training, and coaches aspiring hosts and journalists as well as celebrities, authors and experts. In 2017 she published the e-book, “”So You Wanna Be A Host,”” and has been featured for her coaching in People, Life & Style, and the Saturday Evening Post.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1)Be Curious. As a journalist, you have to possess a natural curiosity. This will help you become a strong interviewer, uncover facts, and leave no stone unturned when it comes to gathering information. Don’t just accept information at face value, dig deeper. Be interested!

2)Ask smart questions. Ask the questions no one else is asking. Avoid yes or no questions — questions that start with “Is,” “are” and “do,” and tend to result in limited response. Instead, ask open-ended questions that begin with words like “how” and “Why.” Instead of asking a person, “did this event change your life?“… ask “HOW did this event change your life?”

3)Check your facts. Nothing kills a journalist’s credibility faster than reporting something as fact that is actually fiction. Double check your sources. When I was at the Fox News Channel, sometimes TMZ would break a story… but as a news organization, we would not run it until credible sources could verify that the story was, in fact, true. Fact is, TMZ was often right… but it would’ve been irresponsible to report something without double checking the facts when the source was known to be tabloid. Credibility is everything.

4)Be flexible and available. Some of my most exciting opportunities came because I was ready to go at a moment’s notice when an opportunity arose. When my E! News Director called me on a Friday and asked, “What you doing this weekend?” I responded,” whatever you want me to be doing.” The next thing I knew, I was on an international flight to Scotland, where I interviewed Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. When opportunity knocks, don’t just open the door…. have your bags already packed, open the door and run through it!

5)Never stop learning. There is great truth to the phrase “knowledge is power.” Learn as much as you can about your field and industry. Learn about your community. Learn about your viewers. Learn about your topics. Learn extra skills. Learn a new language. Learn another. Learn from your successes. Learn from your mistakes. Arm yourself with as much knowledge about as many things as possible. The more you know, the more valuable you will be, and the scope of topics, stories, and events you cover will be broadened immensely. Never stop learning — and your potential for success will be unlimited!

Lesley Jane Seymour

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Maria Karas

My Background

Lesley Jane Seymour is a media entrepreneur and founder of CoveyClub a new club for life-long learners launched in February 2018 (Covey is a small flock of birds). CoveyClub allows women 40+ to bond over issues of interest and concern through virtual salons (Coffee & Conversation) or topics in the The Covey monthly magazine which is written and produced by the best journalists around the world. CoveyClub also offers a daily blog, weekly podcasts with women reinventing themselves (The CoveyCast) and a special list for high-level one-on-one networking (Lesley’s List).

In January 2008, she was named Editor-In-Chief of More Magazine, the leading lifestyle magazine for women over forty with a readership of 1.5 million and Editor-in-Chief and Social Media director of More.com. In July of 2015, Seymour created history by having the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, guest edit an entire issue-leading to 8.5 billion media impressions worldwide. In 2008, Seymour led More to its first National Magazine Award nomination. In 2012, Seymour was named Executive Director of Meredith’s Beauty Center of Excellence; in 2009 she was named number four on the 2009 Most Powerful Fashion Editors List by Forbes magazine.

Before taking over More, Seymour served as the Editor-in-Chief for Marie Claire magazine (4.5 years), Redbook magazine (3 years), and teen book YM. She was Beauty Director of Glamour, and senior editor at Vogue. She is the author of two books: On the Edge, 100 Years of Vogue and I Wish My Parents Understood. In 2013 she was named Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board for Duke Magazine and a Global Ambassador for Vital Voices. She is a trustee at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

*Break the rules. I started as a fashion journalist at WWD and was told when I got to Harper’s Bazaar that I could only do fashion. I knocked on the beauty editor’s door and asked to take the work she didn’t want to do. I pitched features to the feature editor and got assignments. I was told that I was such a strong writer that I couldn’t possibly edit and when Anna Wintour came into Vogue, my bosses all cleared out, and Anna went “”poof! you’re an editor.”” I’ve been both a talented writer and a good editor ever since despite what everyone told me I couldn’t do.

*Go where no one else wants to go. When I was Editor in Chief of More magazine, we did an amazing story about the old babushkas who moved back to Chernobyl — despite the fact that it was an off-limits radiation zone — because for them, being back in the town where they grew up with it’s sense of “”home”” was more important than living in a government-designated “”safe”” place. The research showed that these ladies were LESS likely to die of diseases like cancer than those who moved away. No one but More, which cared about women 40+, would have done that story — which was hiding in plain site for decades.

*Think big, think crazy. As Editor in Chief of Marie Claire, we painted an “au naturale” model to look like she was wearing jeans and a top and sent her to go about her day in Manhattan. We captured the revelations of jaded New Yorkers on film. You should see the opening photo of subway riders looking over their newspapers (yes, they read them back then) suddenly realizing this gorgeous girl was unclothed. We thought we might get arrested but we didn’t. It was totally outrageous and so on brand.

*Find your voice and hone it. There is a fire-hose of content out there coming at consumers full force. Most of it is junk. Most of it is not well thought out, doesn’t have attitude or a point of view. The more you can create a persona, an attitude, a voice, the more your journalism will stand out. Don’t try and be anyone else. Be you to the googleplex.

*The wonderful internet has opened the doors of journalism to everyone today. That means you can be a citizen journalist and take on any topic that concerns you and dig and discover the truth. You can post it online — even if it’s just to Facebook, Medium, or LinkedIn. You can make a difference. Dig deep into a topic that is hiding in plain site which everyone ignores: remember the New York Times breakthrough piece on slaves and poor wages in nail salons? Everyone knew it but no one dug in. Just start digging. (And keep notes!)”

Christina Pascucci, International Correspondent, Reporter and Anchor, Los Angeles

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My Background

Christina Pascucci is an Emmy Award- nominated journalist, licensed pilot, and humanitarian who has worked on air at LA’s #1 morning news station KTLA since 2011 as a reporter and anchor. On the digital side, she has contributed as an international correspondent to Uproxx since 2016.

Christina’s vision is to disrupt the status quo, and continually effect positive change, particularly in human rights and environmental issues.

She has dived with hundreds of sharks, including great whites, to expose the shark finning industry. She traveled to Palau, an island nation near the Philippines in late 2016 to sit down with President Thomas Remengesau and discuss how other countries can emulate what Palau is doing on the front lines of climate change. Her 2015 investigative reporting into the wasteful water-use policies of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power resulted in the agency changing its policy to potentially save millions of gallons of water.

One of her most memorable KTLA reports was when she was invited to the Dalai Lama’s palace in India for an exclusive interview with his Holiness.

Christina fell in love with the Children of War Foundation while on assignment in 2014, when she met a young Afghani girl who was receiving life-changing surgery in Los Angeles after stepping on an IED near her war-ravaged home. Christina now serves as Director of Communications for the organization.

She is also an ambassador to 88 Bikes, a non-profit that fights child sex trafficking around the globe, and a member of Junior League Los Angeles.

She has been a big sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for nearly a decade, and served as a Junior Partner in the organization.””

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1) Be authentic. Talk to the camera like a real person. Let your empathy, concern, anger, or whatever it is you’re feeling, show. Whenever I see a robotic reporter on air, it feels like such a lost opportunity to let his or her own soul shine through. Viewers want to watch real people, and they remember them.

2) Speak a second language. I speak Spanish fluently and want to add Mandarin and Arabic to the list. It makes you more valuable. I was sent to cover the earthquake in Mexico City, in part, because I speak Spanish. And that was a career-defining opportunity.

3) Develop skills that go beyond journalism. The more well-rounded you are, the more unique you are, the bigger asset you become. Because I am a pilot I can intelligently cover aviation incidents, for example. And that has helped me stand out in those moments in a big way.

4) Work your ass off! Show you’re willing to do anything, and learn it. I have done everything from run the teleprompter and shoot and edit my own stories to report and anchor. It’s all equally important, epecially in this digital world. Sometimes I do international stories as a one woman band, even shooting myself as I report. And my greatest mentors stressed the importance of being a solid reporter, writer, and storyteller first before you hit the anchor desk. Good advice.

5) ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!! TV news can be volatile, unpredictable, and negative. I make a conscious choice every morning to focus on the good stuff, and be grateful. I get to meet and interview people from all walks of life, all over the world whether it’s a presidential nominee on the campaign trail, an addict on LA’s skid row, or the Dalai Lama in India. I love those moments, when I can sit and be present with my interviewee and offer them an outlet to be seen and heard. What a beautiful gift.”

Julie Faye Tsirkin, Assistant Producer, NBC News

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My Background

A recent graduate of Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, Julie combines a fresh, millennial perspective with an all-in approach to journalism. Originally on a pre-law track, Julie switched gears early on into her Senior year and decided that she wanted a career that was going to give the voiceless a platform. She began intensively working to meet her goal, dropping in on TV reporting classes and figuring out how to shoot an interview, while successfully completing two internships at MSNBC and graduating that same year. Beginning her first-ever news internship during the 2016 election was, in few words: variable, astonishing, and full of the opportunity to learn. Not many can say that their first time in a newsroom was during the first Presidential debate between quite possibly the two most controversial candidates of our time. Not many can say their first intern duty was to contact Trump supporters and pre-interview them for an Emmy winning anchor. Not many can say that they had NBC News as a classroom — but Julie can. Although early on into her career, Julie has used her passion and drive toward the profession to propel through different areas of Journalism; all within 6 months of graduating. Throughout the last year, Julie has produced segments for a top international news network, personally worked with anchors to enhance their digital presence, interviewed on nationally controversial topics, and used her platform to tell the stories of those who couldn’t themselves. She has assisted on shoots for Nightly News with legendary journalist Tom Brokaw, has been invited to prestigious Media awards, and spent her days off at events such as ‘The UN Global Business Summit’ — to further learn and gain insight from those determined to change our world. She now works for Hallie Jackson, NBC News lead White House Correspondent, and is entrusted with enormous responsibilities that she puts her heart and soul into. Julie lives every day with the simple goal of changing one mind, enhancing one voice, and learning something new. Through all of the shifts and changes in our evolving world, Julie is awakened by them. The national conversation is one that cannot be ignored, and as we see now more than ever, our voices are fundamental. Now an assistant producer, she hopes to keep moving upwards and onwards and to eventually become a political reporter — to see firsthand how people around the country live, think, and experience their lives in varying ways.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

There is no simple formula to excelling as a journalist — in fact, I am still trying to figure this out day by day. Let’s begin with what it means to ‘be a journalist’. In today’s world, fake news is the conversation, and social media can make even the most credible journalist, “”fake””.

So I am going to begin these five tips with probably the most important one: be true to yourself, be true to your reporting, and stand up for what you believe in. Sounds cliche, huh? It’s true.

A big problem I had in school was the amount of disinformation — even before I was exposed to a professional, big-name news organization, I felt completely overwhelmed to the amount of content available. Even when I had no ability to do so, I wanted to change the way we consume information. That’s why when I received a tiny platform in the huge company I work for, I went for it — which brings me to my second tip: always go for it. At a pitch meeting, during an interview, even talking to someone you are totally intimidated by — go for it. The best journalists ask the toughest questions, and that’s exactly why I entered this profession in the first place. At a time where our the fundamental rights to freedom of the press are being questioned, asking what people are afraid to answer is what will set us free. There might be tons of content out there, but when you really sit back and think about what you are personally wondering — that’s what you should ask.

Third tip: don’t be afraid to make a change. Like it says in my bio, I changed what I thought I wanted to do 3 years into my college career. Yea, it was tough. But with dedication, confidence, and a burning passion anything can be achieved. People don’t go into journalism for the fame, glory, or even the money. Journalism is a profession for those who truly wish to make a difference and give the voiceless a voice. That’s why I went into it, at least, and this early on I can already tell apart those who went into it for the same reasons and others who are struggling. Confidence is a key aspect of being a successful journalist, it’s hard to believe in yourself when you’re surrounded by a sea of talented, hard-working, and inspiring people. Every day I walk into the newsroom, I think to myself: how can I be just as great if not better than that superstar veteran anchor, and how can I learn from them to make myself better today than yesterday?

Fourth tip, and I kind of touched on this already, but always push yourself to higher ground. Every one has a different time, just because yours hasn’t come yet doesn’t mean it won’t. Continue pushing, learning, and climbing up — and you will get there. My parents were immigrants, I didn’t “”know”” anyone in the industry, I didn’t have any “”connections””. Excelling as a journalist in a world with so much competition is NOT impossible if you don’t have a way in. Be your own foot in the door, and you will get farther than anyone who had a push inside.

And finally, don’t lose yourself in the process. Be thankful, personable, and eager. An eager journalist will get farther than a complacent one, no matter the natural talent. Always push yourself out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to take a step back before you take 10 steps ahead.

Amy Gutierrez San Francisco Giants In-Game Reporter for NBC Sports Bay Area

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My Background

Amy Gutierrez, better known as “Amy G”, is a multi-Emmy award winning television sports journalist on NBC Sports Bay Area. In 2018, she begins her 10th year, 11th season as the San Francisco Giants in-game reporter on NBC Sports Bay Area. She also hosts Giants Central and pre- and post-game live.

In her broadcasting tenure, Amy has covered a variety of teams and sports including the Oakland A’s, San Jose Sharks, Oakland Raiders,San Francisco 49ers, PAC-12 and WCC football and basketball and the San Jose SaberCats. Before stepping in front of the camera, Amy was a sports producer.

She is the best selling author of Smarty Marty’s Got Game, a children’s book that teaches kids to love baseball through scoring the game. In 2015 she released Smarty Marty’s Official Gameday Scorebook for baseball fans across the nation and in 2017 released the first of a series in chapter books titled Smarty Marty Steps Up Her Game, as well as a Spanish version of Smarty Marty’s Got Game.

Amy is a graduate of UC Davis where she majored in Communications and played volleyball. She resides in her hometown of Petaluma, CA with her husband Paul and two children, Zachary and Grace. “

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

What makes a journalist excel? Seems like a tough question to answer, but after 20+ years in the business, I at least think I have an idea of what leads to longevity in this industry which may just translate to why some of us are seen as “excelling”.

First and foremost — I try to keep it simple. This is a rule I follow not just in my line of work, but in this adventure we call life. I’m a mother of 2 (13-yr old son, 10-yr old daughter), wife, daughter, sister and then….journalist. Keeping it simple is the only way I can keep my head wrapped around a multitude of schedules, events, responsibilities, appointments and my daily duties in my job. Covering baseball can lead to some extensive and layered statistics, analysis, jargon, and hours. I always ask myself (as a former producer), how can I say this information to the audience in 20 seconds. I use bullet points and I stay on point. It limits the ramble which limits the audience saying/thinking “what in the world is she talking about”.

Know your subject! DO NOT TALK ABOUT any aspect of the subject you’re discussing that you do not fully understand. I’ll fully admit, in my line of work from where I sit in the dugout or look out onto the field from the View Reserve section at AT&T Park which is oh, about 10–15 stories high, I can not see the difference between a front door and back door slider. Soooo, I don’t discuss it. My question should the player hit a dinger on that particular pitch is how he prepared the for AT-BAT or what pitch did he see. You never try to outsmart your interviewee, and the audience doesn’t care if you drop terminology, unless you drop the wrong terminology. Once that happens you’ve opened yourself up to a slew of social media critics who don’t think a woman belongs in baseball. So stick to what you know and work on learning more every day you are lucky enough to be a jourmalist.

If you don’t have thick skin, take a hike! It’s been building, the thickness of my skin. Now in my 11th season covering the SF Giants and the exposure I receive on social media, my skin is leather. I just hope it doesn’t look like it! As a person on TV, you will have haters. Some outrageous, some understated, most living in their Aunt’s basement with an egghead as their profile picture. BUT, it’s part of the gig. The moment you acquiesce and say to yourself, I cannot make everyone happy is a day you move forward in your career path of being a journalist who excels, because your focus becomes telling a good story, not hoping people like you.

Be friendly, don’t be friends! The 25-man roster I cover, along with the coaching staff and minor league players that will bounce up and down to the Giants over the course of the season are, for the most part an awesome group of men. They are my colleagues. They are not my “friends”. I do not socialize with them outside of the park or outside of a planned work event. That doesn’t mean I don’t have relationships with them, but the relationships we have are professional. And YOU and YOU alone are responsible for setting that tone. The last thing you want affecting your career are rumors, but if there isn’t any truth to the rumors you will be ok and you will have a respectable reputation. And in this business reputation really is everything.

Support other women in the business! I’m a big believer in karma. What you put out is what you get back. I can’t think of one successful person who didn’t have a helpful hand from someone along the way. Paying it forward is something women in general are REALLY bad at, especially in television. We are so territorial and competitive. Don’t be. Why not help the young, beautiful, smart female intern that admires what you do? If you help her, you set the stage for her to help the young, beautiful, smart female generation of hopeful journalists coming up behind her. There is room for us all and we all have different strengths to keep us working and engaged in a difficult yet coveted career. So be supportive. Go out of your way to help a fellow female attain her dream. And then some day soon, I’ll be reading your 5 tips on how to excel in journalism.

Hoa Quách

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My Background

“Hoa Quách, 33, is an award-winning journalist and editor with more than a decade of experience in radio, television and online news. She started her career by interning with the San Diego Union-Tribune in college before covering the presidential elections for a GlobalVoices.org and Reuters project.

Since then, Hoa has worked in various roles in the ever-changing newsroom, including serving as an editor, reporter, producer and web producer for news organizations such as KPBS and ABC News in San Diego. She also edits books and coaches journalism students.

Although she has covered national and global news for a range of organizations, Hoa enjoys writing about community and local news as a current editor for Patch’s West Coast team where she finds out-of-the-box stories.

Hoa is actively involved in her community. As a past-president for Rolling Readers USA (now Words Alive), she launched the “”Share Your Love of Reading”” campaign, which fundraises to provide books for children in low-income communities and encourages adults to read aloud to their children. She also served on the board of the Asian American Journalists Association and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Freedom of Information Committee.

When she isn’t reporting, she is teaching yoga, and hiking or Crossfitting with her family.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1.Be open-minded. The newsroom is constantly changing as organizations and companies work to stay afloat while still delivering quality journalism.

2.Be willing to learn from those around you. Everyone in a newsroom can teach you something, whether it is the seasoned editor who can tighten your work or the videographer who found a new editing tool or the social media addict who knows how to increase readership on your stories.

3.Be a great a communicator. Ask your sources a lot of questions when you have them so you can deliver accurate news (and possibly find other story ideas), and respond to your readers. It’s important to communicate with readers if they have more questions or even if it’s just criticism.

4.Be your own best editor. It isn’t a secret that copy editor roles are decreasing so you must be your own best editor. In many cases (such as with small news organizations), you may not have an editor so you must read your own work carefully before submitting for publication.

5.Remember who you are working for: the public. The days are long and the job can be thankless but the public relies on quality journalism to stay informed and to keep elected leaders accountable.

Janet Alvarez, Executive Editor, Wise Bread

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My Background

Janet Alvarez is the Executive Editor of leading personal finance site WiseBread.com and the News Anchor for NPR/WHYY.

Across her long career, she has been a financial TV anchor on First Business and TheStreet, interviewing countless Fortune 500 CEOs, U.S. senators/governors, celebrities, and even economics luminaries such as former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

Her writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, Univision, Parents/Ser Padres, and countless other publications.

Janet appears regularly on broadcast programs such as “Good Morning Washington” and Cheddar to share her financial advice with millions of viewers, and she’s frequently quoted in major publications for her expert financial advice.

She’s also been Managing Editor of Mint.com, U.S. News Editor of Reuters-BreakingViews, Director of News and Social Media for Univision, and host of Charles Schwab’s/TIME Inc.’s Insights and Ideas business podcast. Janet holds an MBA and is a candidate for the CFP designation.

Janet resides in Philadelphia with her husband and young son. In her spare time, she writes poetry, plans her next family adventure traveling the world on a budget, and works on new ways to help educate consumers about their finances.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Consume news voraciously and widely: The most capable journalists are also the best-informed. Aside from simply informing you of the latest news and ideas (something necessary to report well on your own stories), consuming news voraciously also teaches you much about the direction of news reporting, and alerts you to any biases or group-think apparent in it. It also has the added benefit of exposing you to a wide range of writing or on-air reporting styles, thereby helping you hone your own craft. The second part of this recommendation shouldn’t be ignored: Consume news widely. That means news from multiple genres (online, radio, TV, social media, etc.) and from outlets with viewpoints different from your own.

2. To be a master of your own craft, possess skill across most genres of news: Few of us can truly be experts at every aspect and genre of news, but today’s multi-media environment requires even the most veteran or specialized among us to understand how various forms of news delivery interact to best inform our audiences. Across my career, I have worked in TV, radio, print/online, and social media-based newsrooms, and what these experiences have taught me about journalism extends well beyond equipping me with a multi-media skillset. It has also taught me about why and how audiences consume news from certain sources, and the varying levels of interest and engagement audiences exhibit in different mediums.

3. Know the proper place of social media: Many journalists still struggle with the role of social media in reporting — how and when to source story material from social platforms, which stories are best distributed on social media, and how to best interact with readership on social platforms. Often, these concepts dictate a newsroom’s policy to social media news delivery. Case in point: I witnessed firsthand the launch of the Fusion Network while Director of New Media for Univison News. I was also responsible for the launch of a breaking news system via social media, and several video social channels for the delivery of Univision’s core news service. Many of these were terrific ideas that simply came too early, or that over-estimated the utility or appropriatness of social media for news delivery. Change is upon us and more is coming, but social media innovation and integration must be based on empirical observation of audience trends.

Innovation should be backed by evidence.

4. Master another craft. I am a financial journalist who never went to journalim school. Instead, I am an MBA and CFP candidate, and for that reason, am better-equipped to serve my audiences than someone with a traditional journalism education. This is not to de-value journalistic education — it is often a wonderful foundation for future success, and instills a love of cradt and journalistic skills and ethics in your adults. Still, journalism educations should also equip reporters and editors to effectively report on their beat. Studying the subject of that beat — whetehr politics, science, or business — should be an important, parallel educational track for all journalists.

5. Know your mission. At a time when public trust in journalists is on the decline, it becomes incumbent upon us to hold our journalistic mission close to our hearts. Our job is to inform our audiences. Our job is often also to present informed opinions on the news. Do not confuse the two, but do not minimize the importance of either one.

Terri Clark, Founder CEO of Terri T.V., Terri T.V.

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My Background

Coming from sunny Fort Lauderdale, FL, Terri T.V. started as the brainchild of Terri Clark in the fall of 2009. As a Psychology major, Terri cultivated her passion of engaging others and participating in spirited debates by posting thought provoking questions and rhetoric on social media. The positive response to Terri’s questions was so great that she decided to take her thoughts and opinions to another level and Terri T.V. was born. Terri T.V.’s first episode was launched on YouTube in early 2010 and focused on a venue that’s always a hot bed for controversy, the Barbershop! With Terri’s live, up close and personal style of interviewing the video became a hit. To date, she has completed several interviews with celebrities, authors, business leaders and newly discovered artists making Terri T.V. a dynamic platform for new ideas and information. In addition to her web series, Terri Clark provides hosting duties for special events and is an active red carpet correspondent at movie premieres and award shows. Terri has added Writer, and Blogger to her ever growing resume. Terri T.V. is a force turning social media and online entertainment on its head. Terri brings that Hotlanta heat to her conversations and interviews that make her viewers gasp, “Did she just say that?!” Terri T.V. is on its way to becoming a national household name and media brand. Terri Clark currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Cameron and their sons, Cameron III and Ahmad.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

To excel in the world of Journalism, there are 5 top tips you absolutely want to know!

1. PRESENTATION! Presentation of your writing abilities is paramount to the eye of the reader. Your writing should have a big impact yet easily understood and absorbed by your target audience. It’s important that you understand your style of writing and to perfect it.

2. YOUR TOPIC! What are you writing about? Is it about someone or something? How interesting is your topic to your reader? There’s an array of topics ranging from hot celebrity gossip to important political matters. Your topic should stay within the theme and interest of your audience. Simply put, know your audience.

3. RESEARCH! Ensure that your resources are checked and that you’ve researched the accuracy of your content.

4. BE CAMERA READY! Journalists are also in front of the camera covering stories, news, or current events. Practice your facial expressions, your posture, work on your tone, and speaking voice. An opportunity to be in front of the camera can very well present itself, so preparation is key…

5. SOCIAL MEDIA VISIBILITY! We are now in a digital content world where everything is at the end user’s fingertips. Social Media allows your viewers to feel connected to you outside of your work. Social Media also allows you to share your opinions and insight in a compressed format.

Stephanie Martinez

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My Background

A native of Barranquilla, Colombia, Stephanie is a five-time Emmy-nominated news reporter at Univision 34 in the Greater Los Angeles area.

She is also the creator of News Quickies (www.newsquickies.info), very short, fun and casual videos in English and Spanish explaining the latest top news in a simple and relatable way through social media platforms. They are conversational in tone and deviate from traditional news outlets and styles.

She previously worked as a reporter and anchor at WUVC (Univision 40) in Raleigh, NC. Stephanie also worked for Voice of America in Washington, DC, producing, editing, and reporting daily national news stories for TV and the web. Her daily tasks also included live TV news updates for international affiliates and reporting daily news feeds for two international radio stations. As a freelance reporter at WZDC Telemundo Washington for almost four years, she covered top stories ranging from controversial immigration issues to heated political topics brewing on Capitol Hill.

Stephanie is currently directing and producing Who is Jubiz?, a documentary about Colombia’s highest profile political assassination and the innocent man who took the fall. Why was it so important to do away with a hugely popular presidential candidate, and who stood to benefit? Who is Jubiz? recounts Alberto Jubiz Hazbúm’s battle against an entire system through his writings made from within prison walls.

She also completed the feature film Uncensored: Narco Journalism. Through the lives of three Colombian journalists, the film recounts the peril journalists endured while covering Colombia’s narcoterrorism violence in the 1980s during the reign of Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel, throughout the 1990s during the rise of corruption in the military, and in the 2000s during a behind-closed-doors oppressive administration.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Here are my five tips:

Always say yes but don’t be scared to say no: In this industry you “pay your dues” for many years. Be mentally prepared to say yes to extremely long hours, crazy shifts, and assignments you think you’re not prepared for. However, there are a few times when you can say no, or more than no, it’s a debate. if you have a different perspective or a focus make sure you voice your point of voice. It is very common that a young reporter follow directions exactly how they are given, no questions asked. But remember you have a voice and that’s what makes you unique. That being said, at the end of the day the news director has the final say so choose your battles.

Know what you’re getting into: Being a reporter can seem glamorous but in reality, most of the moments are not-so-glamorous ones. You will be thrown out of places, yelled at and, on occasions, cursed at. Develop a thick skin and prepare yourself by knowing exactly what you can and cannot do. Knowing the laws about public spaces and government buildings is a great weapon.

Learn data mining for enterprising stories: This was truly one of my favorite classes when getting my master’s degree. Know AND PRACTICE how to request documents through the Freedom of Information Act or Public Records Act. Know how to dig into a database and get patterns. I assure you, the stories that you will find will most likely be one of a kind.

No news is good news: Do not expect praise like you might’ve had in college. In the real world, a “very good job” is expected and the minimum. Find that reward in the impact of your work on other people’s life. It’s 10,000 times more rewarding anyway.

Breaking news: Often on breaking news, you will have minimal to no information about about what you will cover. Research time is minimal so focus on what’s important to your audience and try to get as much VERIFIABLE information as possible. Never assume!”

Liz Wolfe, Managing Editor, Young Voices

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My Background

Liz Wolfe is managing editor of Young Voices, an op-ed pitching shop in DC for up-and-coming conservative and libertarian writers, and a contributor for Washington Examiner. Her work has been published in Playboy, Reason, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, CityLab, The American Conservative, Austin American-Statesman, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, San Antonio Express-News, Rio Grande Monitor, and Houston Chronicle. She has been quoted by the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and (oddly enough) the Japan Times. She writes on drugs, due process, campus speech, sexual assault, feminism, and — whenever editors let her — tattoos. She went on Glenn Beck a few months ago to talk about her Playboy article on domestic terrorism, which resulted in the Beck team tweeting out a Playboy link for the very first time, and she’s been on all sorts of TV and radio shows, ranging from Liz Wheeler to Bloggingheads. Liz is an advocate for not going to college (or doing it in a nontraditional way), living outside of the Washington D.C. Beltway, and both political sides spending more time interpreting their opponents charitably. A hardcore libertarian since she was 15, she realized she wanted to be a writer when she wrote an article on polygamy legalization for her school alt-weekly equivalent during her junior year of high school.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

“Build vertical and horizontal networks (people at the same level as you, career-wise, and people who are in more senior positions), and don’t be overly formal about mentorships. You don’t need to — and you shouldn’t — ask someone if they can be your mentor. It should become obvious over time, to both of you, that their opinion matters to you and that your success matters to them. You can joke around with them and get to know them on a personal basis, too, just make sure they know that you respect them.

Beware of echo chambers. Too many people in the media think they have it right. They don’t. Your news diet should have as much National Review as Mother Jones, and both should be read in good faith, interpreting arguments on either side as charitably as possible. You can disagree, but you can’t claim everyone on the other side is stupid — that’s a bad habit.

Don’t get sucked into the Twitter dramasphere. Accordingly, your follower count matters a little bit, but it will never matter nearly as much as your clips. Spend your time accordingly.

Give praise to people higher than you on the food chain. Generate goodwill. It’s easy to do, and it means a lot to people to receive praise. Similarly, invest in people lower than you on the food chain. Compliment younger writers and show them the ropes. If they have potential, offer to introduce them to one of your editor contacts or let them know they can ping you a few pitch ideas.

Take feedback well. Or at least take it often, and over time, you’ll take it well.”

Mercedes Vizcaino, Peforming Arts, Film, and Lifestyle Journalist, Apple News

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My Background

My name is Mercedes Vizcaino and I’m a female journalist that pursued my passion for writing later in my entertainment career. I had always loved writing. I wrote plays, poems, and short stories for my friends and family to enjoy as a teen. I remember them laughing and immersing themselves with my stories about the dysfunctional Latin families, I had come to known and love — including my own. For the last 14 years I had worked in editorial publishing. I married copy to visuals and made these stories come to life! But, I had always wanted to experiment with reporting. I decided to get my MFA in Creative Writing — while working in publishing — to really hone in on my writing craft. For me, learning on the job wasn’t enough. I wanted to learn from the best.

I enrolled in the New School and studied under some of the best essayists and authors in the country. What an opportunity! Professors like Phillip Lopate and Honor Moore pushed me to dig deep and write with passion and grit. And, I did. I decided to become a freelance writer reporting on New York City’s amazing cultural scene. I haven’t looked back. My next stop: political reporting. With all the upheaval present in our world today, how could I not?”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1) Pursue your passion. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s too late to follow your dreams. Should your dream consist of becoming a reporter, start following reporters you admire on social media. Read their stories, absorb their style, but, develop your own

2) Preparedness — I can’t stress this enough. Prior to interviewing any subject, research the topic/personality to the max. Source credible sources on articles previously published on your subject. Contact any public relations agencies attached to your subject for information not readily available online

3)Perseverance — Don’t give up on the first try. If you are pursuing a story that’s worthwhile and your intuition is giving you all the right signals, keep going! Even if you’ve had 10 people tell you no — the 11th might save the day and grant you that interview

4) Confidence — The phrase “”Fake it til’ you make it’ has served me well many times — not just on writing assignments — I have said yes to projects and campaigns I had no clue on how to execute or complete, but I was so honored and excited by the opportunity, I told myself I had no choice, but to figure it out!

5) Resist Your Comfort Zone — Seek out projects and assignments that you’ve never done and do them. Complete a task that scares you. You will never know how good you are until you complete something that frightens the hell out of you.”

Elana Gross / Elana Lyn

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My Background

I’m a freelance journalist and founder of the personal and professional development website, Elana Lyn. I’m a contributing writer for Forbes, Fortune, Google, Women’s Health, Allure, Well+Good, Dell, and Monster. My writing has also been published in TIME, Teen Vogue, Glamour, Fast Company, Business Insider, Mashable, Refinery29, and additional publications. Elana Lyn provides millennial women with actionable job search, career, and wellness advice.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Read each publication religiously before pitching. Establish strong relationships with editors and other writers. Be thorough when you interview sources. Always proofread and edit before sending your work to editors. Understand the voice, tone, and style guide of each publication.

Sally French, Founder, The Drone Girl

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My Background

I am a digital, social, mobile and emerging media expert, currently heading up social media for The Wall Street Journal Digital Network’s MarketWatch site.

I am also the creator of TheDroneGirl.com, where I was one of the first journalists to focus on reporting on drones. My coverage has earned me the title of Fortune Magazine’s Most Influential Women in Drones, and I regularly speak at conferences and to media about the latest developments in drones, including at Harvard Business School’s “Making Robotics Fly” event and at South by Southwest 2016 at the Google Fiber Space’s drone panel.

I’m a graduate and proud Mizzou Mafia member of the University of Missouri, Columbia. I have a Bachelor’s of Journalism in Investigative Photojournalism and a Bachelor’s of Arts in German. My work has been published in the BBC, the Economist, CNN, NBC, NPR, the Orange County Register and the San Francisco Chronicle, and I also helped numerous media outlets through my work in data journalism at non-profit organization Investigative Reporters and Editors.

I’m also an advocate for the arts, health and fitness. In my free time, I volunteer at the Walt Disney Family Museum and as a group fitness instructor at the YMCA.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Find a niche, and own it! If you don’t already have an established beat at the publication you work for, then one of the best ways to own that niche is by blogging about it! I had the amazing opportunity to learn about drones just as they were in their early stages of becoming popular, and that’s what prompted me to start a blog. Because editors recognized my expertise in the field, my blog has led me to amazing opportunities — first freelancing for publications, and eventually landing a full-time dream job with MarketWatch. It’s a great way to write the stories that major news outlets don’t necessarily want to run, even if you think they’re important. And those stories will probably lead to bigger and better things. I don’t think I would have found sources and ideas for game-changing stories had I not kept my blog up on a regular basis.

2. Even if you don’t have a blog, create a personality for yourself via social media. As media outlets constantly evolve, readers are increasingly becoming tied to the journalist, not the reporter. Social media is an easy and cheap way to build your personal brand, which helps sources and readers remember you.

3. Even if you’re a writer by trade, you need to become a Jill-Of-All-Trades. Learn photography, basic web design, editing, social media and maybe even how to fly a drone. Be an expert in one area, but — especially if you’re working for yourself — you need to be good at troubleshooting problems on your blog and shooting your own photos to support your stories.”

Shamika Sanders-Sykes — Head Writer/Fish N Grits Magazine — Contributing Writer/Urban Magazine

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My Background

“Shamika Sanders-Sykes is a journalist who has always carried a white-hot passion for music.

She started out as a DJ back in 2008, playing on the local scene until she was offered the opportunity to tour with Queen of House, Barbara Tucker on her Summer European Tour in 2011. Since then she has played with the likes of DJ Spinna, Anane Vega, Chuck Chillout and more.

Seeing writing as one of her other loves, Shamika decided to get her feet wet in journalism in 2010 when she started her own blog called Memoirs of a Party Girl, writing her own reviews on music, even interviewing up and coming artists as well as fellow DJs. In 2013, she became one of the many writers for Jack Thriller, where she learned to hone in more on her interviews.

She has contributed to several sites in between the 3 years, but her firecracker personality and unfiltered outlook on the music scene lead her to not only to become a contributing writer for both the lifestyle magazine, Urban, and for music site, TripleHQ, but also as the Head Writer for the provocative Fish N Grits Magazine in 2016.

She has with her 8 years of independent artists, rising stars, music legends and actors of some of TV’s top shows.

Shamika still spins to this very day.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

“My top 5 tips on to excel as a journalist has no rocket science included. These are very simple steps to help you become better at the craft.

1) Credibility is king. When you write about something, make sure your facts are accurate. You can’t piss on people’s shoes and tell them it’s raining. Don’t assume, either, because when you do, you wind up making a fool out of yourself, so, fact check everything.

2) When it comes to interviews, don’t sound rehearsed. You have to remember, celebrities are everyday folks, just like you and me. They like being treated like human beings instead of just being seen as some big star. Hold actual conversations. You will be surprised how much you have in common with the person (or people) you are interviewing.

3) Your writing and pitching abilities has to be top notch. If you can connect with the editor of a publication you are aiming for, then you can definitely connect with your readers.

4) Build relationships with your sources, subjects and mentors. They can advocate for you when a great position opens up.

5) This is the most important. There is a old saying that closed mouths don’t get fed. In other words, PROMOTE YOURSELF. How is anybody going to know who you are and what you do if you don’t do so? The more you promote, the more you get known and watch doors open up for you.

This industry is gonna come with its ups and downs and sometimes, it’s gonna feel like you just wanna throw the whole occupation away, but just as long as you keep yourself focused emotionally and mentally, you got this.

Shannon Toohey, Editor-In-Chief, Fanfest.com

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My Background

Shannon Toohey Graduated from Hofstra University in 2015 with a degree in Journalism, and since then she has been working as Editor-In-Chief of fanfest.com. She is based in Nashville, TN and can usually be seen sprinkling the nerd world with pixie dust.

My Top 6 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Know where your information is coming from, and source it. Whether it’s images for a post, or a quote. It’s so important to attribute information.

2. Keep it simple. You do a great service to people when you give the facts.

3. Make it yours. There’s a really great amount of space in journalism, broadcast, online or print- to put your own spin on how you cover your story.

4. Be passionate. At Fan Fest, we not only report Entertainment news, but we are fans who sometimes write op-ed pieces and include our thoughts.

5. Consider your Audience-Not every person shares the same opinions or values.

6. Listen, learn and retain information all the time!

Carolyne Volpe Curley, Owner, West Essex Now

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My Background

I’m the NJ Press Certified Publisher and Editor of West Essex NOW. As a community service, I publish hyperlocal stories in real time about power outages, fires, police, road closings, along with information regarding local community events and government proceedings.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

I believe your integrity as a reporter is everything. It is exhausting but absolutely necessary to make sure you have every detail correct, and also be willing to admit when you have made a mistake.

Julie Bawden-Davis

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My Background

Julie Bawden-Davis is a Southern California journalist, author and blogger, who writes about business, personal finance, personality profiles, memoirs and home and garden. Since graduating from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in Sociology in 1985, Julie’s work has appeared in a wide variety of publications. These include American Express OPEN Forum, where she writes a weekly article, Parade.com, where she has a weekly garden column, the Los Angeles Times, where she was a columnist for several years, and the San Francisco Chronicle, where she had a garden column.

Julie’s writing has also appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, Family Circle, Parents, Parenting, Better Homes and Gardens, Organic Gardening, The American Gardener, Wildflower Magazine, Entrepreneur, The Toastmaster, Forbes.com, DebtHelp.com, Mint.com, SuperMoney.com and more. Julie is also executive editor of the bi-monthly publication, The Old Towne Orange Plaza Review.

Julie is author of 10 books, including the bestsellers Fairy Gardening: Creating Your Own Magical Miniature Garden and Readers’ Digest Flower Gardening. She also wrote The Strawberry Story: How to Grow Great Berries Year-Round in Southern California and Indoor Gardening the Organic Way: How to Create a Natural and Sustaining Environment for Your Houseplants. Her novels include Leaving Panama’s Paradise: A Journey from the Canal Zone to California and Avocado Flowers: From the Orchards of California to the Streets of Mexico. She also edited the memoir, Born Strong: From Surviving the Great Famine to Teaching Tai Chi to Millions.

A certified master gardener through the University of California, Julie is founder and publisher of HealthyHouseplants.com. Her backyard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. She’s also a member of the Garden Writers Association (GWA), The Romance Writers Association (RWA) and the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). Julie regularly speaks on gardening and writing topics and does book signings. “

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1) Listen. Journalists are a combination of teacher and modern day storyteller. They write about people-what motivates them; helps them succeed and even causes them to unravel. To accomplish this, it’s necessary to truly listen. I allow interviewees to wander until they arrive at their own truths, because those truths will resonate with them and readers. Life is a never-ending lesson. As a journalist, my aim is to share those lessons in ways that enlighten and uplift readers and make them think. I do this by listening first; writing second.

2) Avoid preconceived notions. Assumptions are story-killers. I try to approach every article with an open mind. Just as people are different, so are their viewpoints and insights. With this approach, I’m often surprised and delighted by what people reveal. Those insights make for multidimensional, in-depth stories that appeal to a broad audience.

3) Look at the big picture, but write the details. During the research phase, I work to avoid a myopic view. I study the overarching topic as thoroughly as possible, including what the subject means to society as a whole. Then I have the necessary information required to write the article and focus on the details.

4) Have compassion and be polite. You don’t know the challenges that people are facing or have faced. It might be cliché, but you truly have no idea until you’ve walked every step in another person’s shoes. Compassion allows for trust, which results in revealing interviews. This bond between interviewer and interviewee positively affects the tenor of an article-giving it depth and meaning.

5) Follow your intuition. Investigative journalists use “”gut instincts,”” but they’re not the only writers who do this. When I let my intuition guide me, I’m led to the ideal sources and write the article I was meant to write.

Estelle Erasmus, Journalist, Writing Coach, Instructor, Writer’s Digest, Former Magazine Editor-in-Chief of Five National Consumer Publications, Host ASJA Direct podcast

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My Background

Estelle Erasmus is an award-winning journalist, writing coach and former magazine editor-in-chief of five publications, including Hachette’s Body by Jake, The American Breast Cancer Guide, and Women in Touch. She is a longtime member of the venerable American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and was the conference chair for ASJA’s 2017 Conference in NYC. She just launched the new ASJA Podcast, ASJA Direct: Inside Intel on Getting Published and Being Paid Well. Erasmus is the host and curator of the podcast, which is focused on the craft of writing and pitching and all it takes to be a successful freelance writer. Her guests include editors, writers and authors and surprising success stories.She is also a member of the prestigious American Society of Magazine Editors and teaches pitching and personal essay writing classes for Writer’s Digest.

Her personal essays and reported articles have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vox, Salon, Parenting.com, Yahoo! Brain, Child, Brain, Teen, Family Circle, Quartz, National Geographic Traveler, Zwivel.com, Psychology Today, Thirdage.com, Purple Clover, Marie Claire, XOJane, Stir Journal, Working Mother, and more. She read her personal essay “And She Danced” as a member of the cast of Listen to Your Mother in their inaugural performance in New York City. Erasmus has contributed essays to several anthologies, including My Other Ex, Mothering Through the Darkness, and most recently, How Does That Make You Feel? True Confessions from Both Sides of the Therapy Couch.

As a writing coach, Erasmus evaluates her student’s writing, and helping them to structure it, while polishing their prose and creating greater clarity to make their essays flow, so they can get published.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1) I would say that to make your mark as a journalist, it’s important to not shy away from the big story. Go Big! Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to explore new, groundbreaking subjects. If you stick to doing round ups or very service oriented pieces (how to carpet your guest house), you won’t get the kind of attention to make a name for yourself. I always tell my writing coaching students, that they should work on adding voice to any service pieces that they write. This can be done in the intro statement and also at the ending of a piece.

2) Be Someone An Editor Can Rely On. As a former magazine editor-in-chief, I know that it’s important to deliver to an editor in such a way that you make their life/job easier. Therefore, pick your battles. You might love a headline, but they know what works for their publication better. You will also have a fact checker go over your work, so make sure you have all your data in hand as you work. It will make it so much easier to deliver an annotated manuscript when requested. I would also recommend checking your work, spelling and grammar so that it is as flawless as possible. Finally, the more you can package your work (i.e by creating a structure for it, such as a report card for a politician, or a Best Buy, worst buy, must buy structure for a shopping piece, then you are helping the editor to sell your piece and idea to management.

3) Find Support in Community. There are many writer’s organizations to belong to, that can offer resources, information and commiseration. I have been a member of The American Society of Journalists and Authors since 1997, and it is the oldest and most prestigious membership organization for freelance writers in the country. I have had many volunteer roles in the organization, including chairing last year’s conference in NYC, with nearly 500 attendees over two days. This year I just launched and I’m hosting and curating ASJA Direct: Inside Intel on Getting Published and Paid Well, which is ASJA’s first podcast. My guests include Kyle Pope. the Editor and Publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, and Beth Dreher, the Features Director for Woman’s Day (print).ASJA recently launched a junior Associate membership, with less rigorous requirement s than the professional membership. I also belong to the Author’s Guild, and New York Women in Communications, as well as the American Society of Magazine Editors. There are other freelance organizations including groups on Facebook, so I highly recommend exploring all options.

4) Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot. You may start out specializing in writing about health or beauty or politics, but that is no reason not to explore other subjects if you desire. As a journalist, it’s nice to find a niche early on, so you are known to editors (I specialize in beauty, health, parenting, psychology, and reinvention in midlife), but I’ve also written about politics for Newsweek, and gender roles in medicine for Zwivel.com.

5) Stay Curious. I believe to be the best journalist, you need to maintain a childlike curiosity about the world we live in. This way, you will keep an open mind when you overhear a comment from a stranger that compels you to follow a story, or hear about someone’s experience with a new fitness trend that makes you want to pitch an editor about it.

Dr. Juli Fraga, psycholpogist + freelance health journalist

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My Background

I am a psychologist and a freelance health journalist. I’ve written reported health stories for NPR, the New York Times, Science of Us, The Washington Post, and more. I cover parenting, mental health, and education stories — bringing the latest research to life in a real and relatable way for the modern-day reader.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

When I began writing in 2015, I had no idea how to write a reported story. I had written essays, a dissertation (kind of like a boring reported story), and blog posts. Tenacity and hard-work are the key. Read other people’s writing and look for patterns that make for good storytelling. The key is a unique thesis, a hook, and explaining to an editor WHY you should be the one to tell the story. As a musician, I also see a similar pattern between music and writing. Words are like musical notes, we need them to make good “harmonies” and carefully chosen prose that works for the reader often make for interesting stories.

Aviva Legatt, Founder and College Admissions Expert at VivED Consulting LLC

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My Background

Dr. Aviva Legatt, Founder of VivED Consulting, is a college admissions expert, University of Pennsylvania faculty, and Forbes contributor with experience on the undergraduate admissions committees of The Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, she spearheaded Wharton’s Leadership in the Business World pre-college program and its signature Senior Capstone course.

Dr. Legatt’s beat in Forbes centers on higher education issues affecting millennials. In October 2017, her piece on online degree programs was chosen as a Forbes Editor’s Pick. Through Forbes, she’s had a chance to interview esteemed education leaders including Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford Professor and past education advisor to Barack Obama, Anant Argarwal, Founder of EdX and MIT Professor, and Katlyn Grasso, Seventeen Power Girl and Founder of GenHERation.

Dr. Legatt’s is purpose-driven from her personal experience contracting stress-induced pneumonia in high school due to her own challenges with the college application process.

Dr. Legatt’s expertise is regularly cited in major outlets including U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, Business Insider, Poets & Quants, Forbes, Reader’s Digest and many more.

As a Penn professor, Dr. Legatt teaches about issues of teamwork and diversity affecting modern organizations. Her online course on teamwork through Coursera has been recognized multiple months by Poets & Quants as a top business course.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Keep up with current events. Set Google alerts for your “beat,” attend industry-related conferences, and network with experts.

2. Use a proofreader like grammarly. Staring at a page for hours on end can lead to small typographical errors that are easy to miss.

3. Offer to connect other journalists with sources. We all have trouble finding the right source at times. By extending help, you can create positive energy. Also, if you’re helpful, you’re less likely to have trouble finding a source for your own stories.

4. Use HARO. I’ve met some wonderful sources through queries I’ve sent to HARO.

5. Keep up with your editor and changes in your publication’s priorities. It’s helpful to keep in touch with your editor so that you can ensure that your content remains relevant and timely.”

Dana Feldman

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My Background

I have worked for several years as a freelance journalist covering breaking news with Reuters and am a regular Forbes Contributor covering film, television and music. My byline has also appeared in Variety and in the recent winter issue of The DGA Quarterly, among other outlets. I enjoy covering breaking news, crime and court proceedings for Reuters. News happens quickly and without warning most of the time, so there’s a fast-paced, frenetic energy that happens that can be very exciting at times. You’re always having to move and think with lightning speed, a skill that is honed over time. With the ever-evolving business of entertainment, it’s thrilling to interview the interesting people behind the business of what we watch and listen to. These creatives, and business-minded people alike, are such a huge part of the zeitgeist and it’s their work that shapes not only our personal tastes, but also our culture. The reason I wanted to become a journalist was to give a voice to those in need of one and to help educate readers on various subjects of interest. There is power in the written word and when used wisely, a great deal of efficacy for knowledge and change.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1.Work Hard: You have to be willing to work very hard. There is simply no avoiding the fact that you have to put in the time. Writing is a skill that improves the more you do it. Write every single day. I am always looking up new words and expanding my vocabulary.

2.Hone Your Listening Skills: A quality interview is equal parts asking solid questions and listening to the answers. I often find in interviews that a subject’s answers lead to new questions and information.

3.Research Everything And Everyone: Always keep abreast with the news. Be aware of what is going on in the world. Knowledge is absolutely power. That one tidbit of information that you at first thought might be useless, can in fact, turn out to be very important. Learning never stops and is an ongoing process.

4.People Skills Are As Important As Writing Skills: You must be able to read people and find a way to relate to them regardless your personal differences. Body language, tone of voice and facial expressions will all tell you a lot about a person and their willingness to speak with you, or not. You can be the best writer in the world, but if you aren’t able to relate to people and get them to talk to you, it’s useless in this field. I once had a man threaten myself and a camera man and another crew that he would “blow our brains out” if we didn’t get off his lawn and leave his property. I saw that he meant business, but I also saw that he had a Marine pin on his shirt. Knowing the camaraderie of the Marines, a brotherhood that is forever, I said “Semper Fi” and told him that my father fought in the Korean War. He knew I understood and respected him. In an instant, this man welcomed both news crews onto his property and gave us the interview we came for.

5.Have Patience: Anyone that knows me, knows I lack patience. In journalism I’ve had to fight this part of myself because it’s a lot of hard work, crazy hours and often for little money. You do this work because you love it, not because your aim is to get rich, though you can make a good living if you’re willing to put in the time and effort it takes.

Sherry Beck Paprocki, president, RS Rock Media, Inc.

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My Background

Sherry Beck Paprocki is president of R.S. Rock Media, Inc. and president of American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). As an award-winning journalist, author and editor, she manages projects for print and digital outlets. R.S. Rock Media produces content that shapes the brand images for general circulation publications, colleges, small businesses, big personalities, nonprofits and others.

Among clients have been Open Sky Media, based in Austin, Texas; Gulfshore Life magazine in Naples, FL; ASP Westward, based in Houston; Dispatch Magazines, based in Columbus, Ohio; American Community Newspapers; Savannah News-Press; Marietta College; Antioch University; Ohio State University; and others. In early 2013, Paprocki served as interim publisher for San Antonio Magazine. Sherry has partnered on projects for some the world’s top brands, including Sotheby’s Real Estate, The Ritz-Carlton Resorts, the Naples Yacht Club, as well as multiple attorneys and physicians, and many more.

Originally a freelance writer, Sherry has published in Preservation magazine, Hemispheres magazine (United Airlines), Pages magazine, Time magazine (Toyota special content), Principal, Midwest Foodservice News, The Chicago Tribune, Austin Magazine, Gulfshore Life in Naples, Fla., ConsumerGuide, InStyle magazine, Tribune Media Service, Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Universal Press Syndicate, Women of Ohio, Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Columbus Monthly magazine, Harrowsmith Country Life, American School Board Journal, eSchool News, Thinking Families, Home Health Journal, Arriving Magazine, Country Living Magazine, PennLines Magazine, Ohio State University Alumni Magazine, Denison University Alumni Magazine, AAA Home & Away, others.

Her work has received top honors from by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the City and Regional Magazine Association, the Society of Youth Advocates, the Cleveland Press Club and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.

As author of Content Marketing: 50 Ways to Tell Your Story and co-author to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Branding Yourself, Paprocki helps clients communicate strategic brand messages. Paprocki has also written more than a dozen additional books, many focused on high profile personal brands including Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Bob Marley.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Always be your authentic self during an interview or a conversation. In more than 30 years of being a journalist and an editor, I’ve found that people find it easy to talk with someone who is friendly and polite even when doing interviews on difficult topics. Allow people to speak freely, don’t cut them off and don’t hijack the conversation in a different direction. Whether you’re doing an interview or attending a dinner party, ask good questions and listen closely as they are answered.

2. Don’t take things personally. Being a journalist and owning a communications business teaches you to have a tough skin. Women benefit from separating their emotions from their professional persona.

3. Be a good team player. Even though I’ve worked as an independent journalist, the best projects result in everyone being flexible and open-minded enough to hear the other good ideas being expressed in the room.

4. Think global. In today’s complex media environment, anything can go global at any point. Therefore, you should always scrutinize the information that you’re reading and the research that you’re doing to be sure that it’s coming from credible resources. Being modern in your method of communicating, such as using all the various opportunities in social media, also means that you need to be aware of pitfalls that can occur anywhere along the way. (Read Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recently released 37-page indictments against 13 Russian entities to understand the extreme pitfalls that occurred with social media just prior to the 2016 presidential election.)

5. Be the good leader. Being a good leader doesn’t mean that you get your own way all of the time. In fact, you may never get your own way. But, a good leader understands that everyone will feel like a winner if the person at the center of the project is using good communication skills.

Liz Muentes, TV Producer, WNET- New York Public Media

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My Background

Liz Muentes is a producer for WNET- New York Public Media one of the top PBS stations in the country. As a producer, she produces, writes, shoots and edits various shows. She produces a science and tech show titled SciTech Now, A business show titled Long Island Business Report and works on various documentaries. As a two time Emmy Award Winner, Liz believes that public television is very important as it spreads important information and creative art programming to the general public.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Here are a few suggestions for anyone looking to get in the field.

1. Research: Do your research. Information can change in a minute. Make sure you check if the information is still relevant and correct and have at least a few references to back you up.

2. The medium is the message: Journalism and television change everyday, allowing its audience to be connected in various platforms. Always keep learning and be up to date on these changes in order to keep the public informed in different ways.

3. Be yourself and be kind: Working in television you come across various people from all walks of life. Make a connection and keep learning from those around you.

4. Always keep learning: Cameras and editing software changes over the years. Make sure to take classes and be up to date with equipment and software.

5: Take risks: Do not be afraid to take a risk. If there is a story you want to tell, an important message you want to communicate with an audience- Do It! Take risks because you will never know what impact you may have on another.

Christina Nicholson, Owner of Media Maven

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My Background

Christina Nicholson is a former TV reporter and anchor who has worked in markets from New York City to Miami. She is still telling stories, but instead of doing it for a newscast, she’s doing it to help businesses grow. With her business, Media Maven, she helps entrepreneurs reach thousands, even millions, of their ideal customers or clients in minutes instead of months through the power of media — traditional and new — without spending big bucks on advertising.

You can still see her in front of the camera as a host on Lifetime TV, in national commercials, and on WPTV for her monthly segment, Steals and Deals. Christina also has a local lifestyle and family blog, Christina All Day. She lives in South Florida with her husband and two young children.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Storytelling. It all goes back to storytelling and having three key elements in that story — education, entertainment, and emotion. People want to learn something. It’s why they search online, so teach them something in an entertaining way. If they’re not entertained, they will go elsewhere because there is so much to choose from. The biggest thing that connects all of us is emotion. If this isn’t in your story, it’s not going to connect with the person reading, watching, or listening to it. When I worked as TV reporter, we called this getting a “real person” to talk. For example, you can’t do a health story with just a doctor. You need a patient. That’s the “real person” and the person who will bring the emotion to a story.

Kinsey Schofield, Anchor

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My Background

Kinsey Schofield is an American journalist, host, and social media savant. She began her career at AZ Weekly Magazine as a fashion columnist. With over a quarter of a million social media followers, @KinseySchofield grew her social media audience by mixing headlines and humor.

Schofield’s online presence got the attention of the E! Channel and she was cast to star in the reality television show, Party Monsters Cabo. The competition based show also starred P. Diddy, Lil Jon, Missy Elliott, 50 Cent, Nick Cannon, Carmen Electra, and The Jenner / Kardashian family.

Schofield parlayed her reality tv fame into a tv commentating and hosting career. She has been seen on Nancy Grace, Dr. Drew on Call, Jane Velez-Mitchell, FOX & Friends, Your World with Neil Cavuto, FOX’s Happening Now, Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld, The Young Turks, and numerous E! Channel comedy specials; Celebrity Oops They Did It Again, Bigger Badder Celebrity Feuds, Attack of the Celebrity Bikinis, and Worst Thing I Ever Posted.

Schofield has been featured on the cover of So Scottsdale Magazine, Arizona Foothills Magazine, and Entrepreneur Magazine and was included in the top 5% of Fast Company Magazine’s Social Media Influence Project.

You may have also heard her filling in as “The News Girl” on The Adam Carolla Show.

Schofield covered the Jodi Arias trial for Phoenix’s KPNX. She helped develop KSAZ’s FOX News Now, anchoring live coverage 4–7 hours daily. Hundreds of thousands of viewers tuned in and engaged with hosts on a daily basis through YouTube and Facebook. She spent a year at KNXV helping to develop their live video platforms. Her most notable success was reaching 16 million Facebook users while anchoring 4 hours of live coverage during a hostage situation. Most recently, Kinsey Schofield was weekend anchor for Good Day Sacramento.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Being first is not as important as being correct. Social media has made reporters more competitive. Not only does it lead to spelling and grammar errors, but sometimes it leads to incorrect information and not enough sourcing. Don’t jeopardize your reputation to send the first tweet. Screen grabs will haunt you.

Screen grabs will haunt you! There used to be so much mystery surrounding journalism and sources and secret meetings. Social media and technology have made our lives easier… and harder. But now it is safer to assume that everything you put in writing could be saved and shared. Be cautious in exchanging sensitive information or opinion over text message or private social media messages.

Be kind everywhere you go. As a fan of some of the personalities that I inevitably was able to work with, I’ve seen good and bad behavior in the field. Nothing is more disappointing than seeing someone you idolized being disrespectful or hateful when the cameras are off. Nancy Grace, who is notoriously tough, was one of the kindest and most uplifting characters I met off camera. She encouraged me and went out of her way to help me pursue my dreams. I will never forget the way she made me feel and I hope to make other young women feel the same way.

Stay above the fray. Newsrooms can be toxic and gossipy. Try to avoid participating in this behavior at all cost. Gossip can be fun and it can make you feel like you’re being included but people will respect you more if you reject that behavior and information.

Know deep down that your hard work will be rewarded. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow but if you continue to work hard and push forward, you will open doors for yourself and you will create new opportunities. And don’t forget to treat people the way you want to be treated. ❤️

Carol Sankar

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My Background

Carol Sankar is a high level business consultant and the founder of The Confidence Factor for Women in Leadership, which is a global executive leadership firm focused on diversity and inclusion initiatives for high level women. Carol has been featured at TEDx, The Steve Harvey Show, Bounce TV, SHRM, The United Way and more. In addition, Carol is a contributor for Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine & Forbes.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

To excel as a top-tier journalist and thought leader, you need to understand the importance of dominating your space, rather than competing with other women in the market. It is essential for women to own their own voice over and believe in the quality of the content they provide to the world.

Suzannah Weiss, Freelance Writer, Contributing Editor for Teen Vogue and Complex

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My Background

Suzannah Weiss is a freelance writer and editor who currently serves as a contributing editor for Teen Vogue and Complex and a regular contributor to New York Magazine, The Washington Post, Vice, Glamour, Bustle, Refinery29, Everyday Feminism, Self, Men’s Health, The Establishment, Audiofemme, and more, publishing up to 15 articles/day. She authored a chapter of Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World and frequently discusses gender, body image, and social justice on radio shows and podcasts. She has edited for Broadly, Footnote.co, and several bestselling authors and ghostwritten for well-known CEOs. She also works as a content marketer and career coach. Whoopi Goldberg once cited one of her articles on The View in a debate over whether asking for what you want in bed is a feminist act. (She thinks it is.)

Suzannah holds degrees in Gender & Sexuality Studies, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Modern Culture & Media from Brown University, which she uses mainly to overanalyze The Bachelor and argue over semantics. Her background in writing, editing, marketing, and communications ranges from tech startups to academic journals. Before starting her freelance career, she served as Assistant Editor for Footnote, a site that translates academic research for mainstream audiences, Editorial Assistant for the academic journal Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, Content Specialist for the technology startup WibiData, and Content Writer for the technology-focused PR firm Coderella.

Her writing has also appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Seventeen, Bitch, Bust, Women’s Health, Paper, Paste, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Mic, Business Insider, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, Alternet, Thought Catalog, Pop Sugar, xoJane, MEL, and much more.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1) Treat your pitches like hot potatoes. Don’t get discouraged when an editor rejects them; that’s par for the course. I once had an essay rejected 11 times before it was published in Marie Claire. As soon as one place rejected it, I sent it somewhere else.

2) Always ask for more money than the editor proposes. I typically ask for $50-$100 more per piece than I’m offered, and I usually get it. I don’t even always give a reason; I just ask. If you don’t, you’re leaving money on the table. And if you write for someplace regularly, all that money adds up.

3) Race against the clock. When you tell yourself an assignment is a ton of work and will take forever, it probably will because you’ll be spending half the time worrying about it and analyzing every word choice. Instead, set a time limit for your first draft, and go back and edit it after. I regularly finish 500-word pieces in under an hour this way. I tell myself just to get it done because I can edit it later, but it always ends up better than I expected, because my mind is forced to find the most efficient way to write it.

4) Develop relationships with editors and sources. PR people have been known to annoy journalists, but when I find ones who are actually helpful, I always get coffee with them. They often have more good ideas up their sleeves and even connections to editors. Meeting editors in person is also critical so that they develop a sense of loyalty to you and get an idea of what assignments you want.

5) Get contact info from interesting people you meet. I’m always on the lookout for a good interview subject. From a professional cuddler to a drug harm prevention expert who tours music festivals, followup emails to random people I’ve met have landed me some of my best assignments.

Eraina Ferguson, Founder, My Good Life

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My Background

Eraina Ferguson is a journalist currently penning a memoir about raising a daughter with autism and deafness. Her story of raising her daughter with special needs while obtaining three academic degrees, including Yale, was featured “The New Haven Register” and “The New Haven Independent.” She has also appeared on the daytime TV show, The Real.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts, an M.Ed in Education and an MAR in Religion from Yale University. She is also a contributor for JET Magazine, Ebony, Huff Post, Thrive Global, Red Tricycle, Yale News, and DFW Child Magazine.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Though I have two graduate degrees, I did not study journalism in college. My path to becoming a journalist was non-traditional. Below are five tips that I’ve learned along the way.

Study the Craft: It was especially important for me to take online courses through Coursera and other platforms in order to stay informed on the craft of journalism.

Find a Mentor: All mentors do not need to be people that you know. Find a virtual mentor and model their path and brand. Take notes on the people and journalists that influenced them as well. Read the memoirs of famous journalists and learn how they built their career.

Write.Read.Re-Write: In order to become efficient and deliberate as a journalist, it is important to read and write as much as possible. My first job in communications was when I attended Yale for graduate school. My student worker position was as a reporter for the local paper. Though I was thrilled at the opportunity, it was scary and new. Since then, I’ve read a well written piece from a journalist before I’ve written every piece of writing. This regime has helped me immensely.

Build Relationships: Your brand and reputation start the minute that your first piece goes public. You are in charge of building, maintaining, and strengthening your network. Choose your relationships wisely, and follow through on your commitments.

Pitch and Follow Through: It is one thing to pitch a piece, but because of the amount of emails that many editors receive, it is hard to keep track. Pitch and then set a date to send a follow up email.

Lisa Rowan, Senior Writer and On-Air Analyst, The Penny Hoarder

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Sharon Steinmann

My Background

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and on-air analyst at The Penny Hoarder focusing on grocery, retail, and consumer affairs topics along with features. A former full-time freelance writer and vintage shop owner, Lisa is well versed in the gig economy and the small-business landscape. Lisa also cohosts a weekly top-rated podcast, Pop Fashion, that discusses various of aspects of the business of fashion and culture. She holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University, where she studied the challenges of reshoring American apparel manufacturing, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland. A Philadelphia-area native who spent 10 years in Washington, D.C., Lisa is most recently a resident of St. Petersburg, Florida. Lisa’s advice has been featured in Women’s Health, Real Simple and NBC News.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Don’t apologize for asking difficult questions. If you want a source to know why you’re asking a certain question, tell them. If you know the question hits a sensitive topic, acknowledge that. But never start a question with “I’m sorry to ask this, but…” You can relay that you’re compassionate without endless apologies.

2. Accept that you will not always deliver the most beautiful prose. When you’re facing a tight deadline, you face two pressures: getting it right and getting it pretty. It’s more important to be correct, clear, and concise — text your readers can understand easily.

3. Never forget where you came from, especially if that “where” is Twitter circa 2008. Look to your strongest networks for sources, advice, support, but pay attention as well. Listen.

4. Double-check any numbers in your reporting before you give your piece to your editor. If you’re bad at numbers, check them three times and show your math.

5. Sit in the front. Stand in the front. Introduce yourself to the PR people and the handlers. Getting access is often easier when people recognize you.

Erica Sandberg Consumer finance reporter

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My Background

Erica Sandberg is the nation’s top consumer finance expert and freelance journalist. Her work appears in a wide variety of outlets, from National Review to Bankrate Inc.’s CreditCards.com where she is an advice columnist, blogger, and reporter. She writes for The Credit Solutions Program and served as editor-at-large for Credit Card Guide. The San Francisco Chronicle selected Erica to pen her astute observations about economics and urban living for SFGate’s City Brights section. An experienced TV and radio host, Erica has led many financial programs, including her podcast, Adventures With Money. A familiar face on camera, Erica has been appearing on KRON-4 News in San Francisco as their resident personal finance authority for over ten years, and she has been a guest on virtually every national news program, from Fox to CNN. Erica’s groundbreaking book, Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families was first released in 2008 to great acclaim, and the 2017 edition is out now. Background and foreground: Erica began her career at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco as a budget and debt counselor, and ended as the company’s chief public relations contact, where she got her start on TV and radio. Today she is an amateur ballerina and hockey player, and is always available for a laugh and crash on the dance floor or ice.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Mind your damn manners. As a reporter, nothing turns me off faster than someone who doesn’t express appreciate and gratitude, and I have found that others appreciate it as well. It gives you a leg up in this world. So many people are rude and think it’s fine. Trust me — it’s not. when you don’t say please or thank you, if you’re gruff on the phone, or if you’re late and don’t apologize, you just look like a jerk. Of course don’t be saccharine, though. Anyone can spot a phony.

2. Be the professional version of you. I have an irreverent side and it’s going to shine through in some stories. For example, when I’m on camera, I tend to laugh, smile, and sometimes even joke. It works for me. Key into what works for you. Maybe you’re the straight person, and if that’s case, lay off the jokes. Whatever the case, tap into your special “you-ness” and use it to your advantage.

3. Default to traditional journalistic values. If you want to stand out as a reporter these days, conduct yourself like a good old-fashioned journalist. Never conflate opinion with facts. Research the subject thoroughly, vet your sources, honor a style guide, and use proper grammar.

4. Learn how to interview. Prepare all of your questions in advance and set parameters before beginning the interview. Explain how long it will take, what you will cover, and that you need the person to be as concise as possible. Always try to end with “is there anything else you want to add about this subject?,” because that’s where you’ll often get your best material.

5. Don’t give excuses. Editors don’t want to hear why you’ve missed a deadline or your reasons for delivering shoddy work. While they may be nice people who are also empathetic, at the end of the day none of that matters. What you deliver is important. So avoid the temptation to explain what prevented you from doing a great job and concentrate on getting the job done.

Addie Morfoot, Entertainment Journalist / Writer, Freelancer

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My Background

Addie Morfoot has been covering the entertainment industry for the last 14 years. Her work has appeared in Variety, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Crain’s New York Business, Documentary Magazine and Adweek. Her personal essays have been published in Marie Claire, Salon, Cosmopolitan.com, Brain, Child, The LA Times and The New York Press.

Originally from Connecticut, Addie began her writing career at Variety’s headquarters in Los Angeles before transferring to their Manhattan bureau in 2005. She has an undergraduate degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned an MFA in Creative Writing — Nonfiction from The New School in 2012.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

I started reporting for Variety when I was a very influential 24 year-old. If only someone — anyone! — had told me that saying “”sorry”” more than once and admitting weakness and /or insecurities about an assignment was NEVER worth it. If you need to talk about those kinds of feelings, save it for your best friend or your mother.

To excel in the competitive world of journalism you need to be:

1.)Curious. Take on assignments that you know nothing about. If an editor says, ‘Hey. Would you like to write about ivory-billed woodpeckers?’ Say — ‘Yes!’ And then find out everything you can about ivory-billed woodpeckers.

2.)Be confident even if you are scared to death. Subjects want to feel comfortable speaking with you. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with them — even if that subject happens to be Brad Pitt! — why in the world would they ever be real with you? As in — give you a good interview? (P.S. — confidence stems from researchh

3.)My third piece of advice might sound odd, but sometimes reporters forget about it, and that is — be respectful. Yes we all want a good quote and are under immense pressure to get it, but we are ALL also human beings who deserve respect. If your subject isn’t respectful towards you — it doesn’t matter. Be professional and keep your side of the conversation respectful.

4.)Be persistent. A lot of subjects dance around questions they don’t like and end up giving you robotic quotes about nothing. If you don’t hear an answer to the question you are asking — push for it. It’s your job.

5.)When you make a mistake, and you will, apologize and move on. Don’t wallow in it and worry about what colleagues now think of you. And whatever you do, DO NOT keep apologizing for it. Once you’ve said “sorry” more than once, you start to seem weak and then people begin to treat you like you are weak. Believe me. I know from experience. LEARN from a mistake and MOVE ON…with your head held high!

Jia Wertz, Founder & CEO, Studio 15

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My Background

“Jia Wertz is the Co-Founder of The Mastermind Exchange, a peer-advisory group designed to give high-achieving entrepreneurs invaluable advice and strategies to overcome growing pains and accelerate growth for their small businesses. She is also Founder and CEO of Studio 15, a socially responsible women’s fashion brand.

Through Studio 15’s commitment to philanthropy, the company has funded more than 30 successful ventures for female entrepreneurs in Africa through a strategic partnership with non-profit organization Kleos Microfinance Group.

During her 18-year fashion career in business development, Jia led the Sales Development, Operations and Communications Departments for bebe, three districts for Aldo Shoes, among roles at other major brands. Jia is also a contributor at Forbes, Business.com, and Thrive Global. You can follow her journey on Twitter @JiaWertz

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Always cover stories and topics with the readers top of mind. The more helpful your articles can be to the audience, the better received the pieces will be and the more readership you will gain.

2. Ask a lot of questions. Reporting different viewpoints and uncovering unique details will make your articles more interesting. Relating to your subjects and asking the right questions will uncover details that other journalists may not be able to, the more exclusive information you can obtain, the better your reporting will be.

3. Find unique angles to write about. In today’s digital world, the same stories are often reported in multiple publications. That’s why it’s important to find opinions or perspectives that are different than what is already in the media.

4. Drive traffic to your articles. There is such a variety of options for readers today that you can’t count on only organic traffic to your articles. It’s best to be proactive and have a few different avenues to drive traffic, such as asking the people mentioned in the article to share the piece with their network, sharing on your own social media accounts, and spending a little on digital marketing to increase readership. Being tech savvy will give you a huge advantage in driving traffic to your pieces.

5. Have a solid editing strategy. Turnaround times are very fast in the industry and you’re required to not only be fast, but always be accurate and detail-oriented. This is why having an effective editing process in place that works well for you is key. For example, I know that I catch my typos and grammatical errors if I re-read my articles out loud during my final editing process, so I make sure to always leave time for a final review that I can read out loud in a quiet environment. I also have an assistant who will review the final copy as a second set of eyes. Investing in a great personal assistant or editor is money well spent; it’s a small investment that saves you a significant amount of time and prevents errors.

Cheryl Winokur Munk, freelance writer

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My Background

I have been a freelance writer since 2004. My coverage areas include college planning, personal finance, retirement, small business, wealth management, the financial advisory business, alternative lending, payments and banking. I write frequently for large national publications including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, PaymentsSource, DeBanked and Independent Banker. Prior to launching a successful freelance career, I was a reporter at Dow Jones Newswires for four years, where I covered the investment banking business and the top Wall Street firms. During my stint at Dow Jones, I also wrote many articles that appeared in the Wall Street Journal as well as other national (and international) publications. I also did a special assignment covering the aftermath of 9/11 and writing special features focusing on the human side of the recovery efforts. Prior to joining Dow Jones, I was a reporter for American Banker for two years. I wrote about investment programs at community banks, mutual funds and other investment-related topics. I even got to travel to Poland to discuss the new pension system there. I started out my career at the New Jersey Law Journal, where I worked for two years after graduating from Boston University with a degree in Journalism. I live in West Orange, New Jersey with my husband and two children.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Making good connections is my №1 bit of advice. When I started out as a freelancer, I was nervous about making a career out of it. But a former American Banker co-worker gave me excellent advice: Tell everyone you know you’re looking for work. I followed that advice and thankfully one project has continued to lead to another. I’ve stayed in touch with many former co-workers over the years and they, too, have been a great source of referral work.

№2: Your reputation is everything. I always try to act in a professional manner. It’s trite to say that you win more with honey than with vinegar, but it’s true. Even when you feel frustrated with a source for one reason or another, you have to keep a high level of professionalism. Because I’ve stayed in a similar writing industry for so long, many of the contacts I made long ago are the same, even if they are at other firms. One of the reasons I’ve done so well, I think, is because I try to treat everyone with professional respect and courtesy. Another facet of this is not biting off more than I can chew. I always make sure I can met deadlines before I accept an assignment. I’d rather turn away work than commit to more than I can reasonably handle.

№3: Be accurate. Everyone makes mistakes, but I try to check my work over and over again to ensure I’m handing in the best quality work. When I do make mistakes, I take prompt corrective action. Journalists are human, but hiding a mistake is never the right course to take.

№4: Pay it forward: I’ve gotten a number of viable leads from former co-workers over the years and I always try to recommend others when I hear about opportunities that might be up their alley. Some people view the business as cutthroat, but I’ve found success by developing close ties to people and working with them as opposed to against them.

№5: Do what you love. One summer during college, I was offered a high-paying job selling knives. I almost jumped at the chance because I was influenced by the money-making potential compared with other opportunities I had found. My dad, however, pointed out that at the end of the day, I’d still be selling knives and he urged me to consider whether this was truly what I wanted to do. I think about this advice all the time. I try to be selective about the opportunities I accept. Money is important, but it’s not everything. I love writing and I’m passionate about it. I could never have said the same about selling knives.”

Lucy Westcott, Freelance Writer and Producer, Print and Digital Journalism

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My Background

Lucy Victoria Zena Westcott is a journalist currently working as a freelance producer and writer at The Atlantic’s branded content arm, Atlantic Re:think. She has written for Newsweek, Bustle, and PopSugar, and is working on a story about asylum seekers in the U.S. for The Intercept. Lucy is based in Brooklyn, New York, and was born and raised in Swindon, U.K., where she regularly visits her family and stocks up on tea, chocolate, and magazines.

Lucy’s writing has covered a diverse range of topics, but focuses on women’s rights — particularly reproductive health and abortion access — as well as immigration and refugees in the U.S., and the hardcore-punk music scene. The majority of her stories have been based in the U.S., although she has reported from Jordan, South Africa, Lesotho, Cameroon, and Egypt.

Lucy, 27, was a reporter at Newsweek from 2014 to 2017, focusing on human rights and women’s rights. Before that, she was a writer for the Atlantic Wire, the news blog for The Atlantic, and wrote for Bustle. She also interned at Newsday and the BBC’s Washington bureau. Lucy has a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from the University of Sussex and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. She earned a spot on the International Reporting Project’s 2016 group trip to South Africa and Lesotho.

In January, Lucy published the first issue of her zine, FLUCK, about women in hardcore-punk. She’s working on the second issue. Lucy was married in New York City last year. “

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Write about what you care about. If you’re interested in a particular topic, issue, or country, make sure you focus your writing around that, if you can. I’ve worked as a general assignment reporter, which is great for improving your writing ability and speed, and getting experience with a wide range of topics. It’s best to have a beat and own it. Your passion will shine through, and you’ll be better for it.

Listen to people — you are not the story. Part of being a journalist is being a good listener and not inserting yourself into the story. The ubiquity of social media makes this difficult: we are used to sharing aspects of our private lives, and that could easily bleed into work. Keep the boundaries and respect the fact that people are telling you their stories. That is a huge privilege.

If you don’t see it, be it. The job of a journalist is constantly adapting. However, the job you ideally want might not always be out there. Last year I began working on a zine about women in punk music, something I’m very passionate about. I published my first issue last month, and I’m thrilled. I created my zine and thus created my job: I’m a journalist and zine editor.

Don’t let a “lack” of qualifications or connections stop you. After finishing my masters degree — for which I received a fellowship — I arrived in New York City with very few connections. I moved to the U.S. from Swindon, where most of my ancestors were factory workers. None of them had any connections to journalism. I went to a public, not private, school. I interned for free because I was on a student visa and was told that in order to make it in journalism, I should marry a rich man. Don’t let comments like that stop you. Instead, be the change.

Be kind. The world is cruel, and bad news is unending. Being a journalist right now can be very tough, but kindness can go a long way. People are understandably reluctant to speak with the press, rightly afraid of their names getting dragged through the mud. If someone is speaking with you and letting you share their story, make sure you do it justice. Update them on when the story is coming out. Follow up and send them a link. People remember.

Ruth Ebenstein, freelance print journalist

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My Background

Ruth Ebenstein is an award-winning American-Israeli journalist/writer, historian, public speaker and peace/health activist who loves to laugh a lot and heartily. Ruth has published her shorter writing on both sides of the Atlantic and won two first-place Simon Rockower awards, sponsored by the American Jewish Press Association. Her writing has appeared in the Atlantic, Washington Post, WomansDay.com, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, House Beautiful, USA Today, TriQuarterly, Stars and Stripes, Education Week, Entropy, Tablet, the Forward, Brain, Child, Guideposts, NewSacred.Org, The Jerusalem Report, The Jerusalem Post, Quail Bell, Times of Israel, The Canadian Jewish News, Bnai Brith, and other publications.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Approach each interviewee and every source with curiosity, humility, and respect. Don’t assume that you know anything about the individual you’re going to interview. Try to set aside any preconceived notions you have, and open yourself up to learn. What can this source teach me about this story? What can this source teach me, period? Remember that that source is gifting you a precious resource that you can never give back: time! I find curiosity serves as a powerful compass. Humility should always be right there, in your back pocket. Acknowledge, and be honest about, any prejudices or privilege that might color the interview.

Listen. Take the time to listen to the answers you’re getting to your questions. Remember the difference between hearing, which is capturing sound, and listening, which comprehending what you hear. There is a tenor, tempo and texture to the words and the body language, the spaces and sounds in a conversation. Don’t forget to also take note of what is not being said! Insider tip: interviewees often say the juiciest, most compelling thing at the end!

Get your facts right! Remember that you can never reach all the readers/listeners/viewers to correct a mistake so labor to do it right the first time.

Be a good team player, even if you’re a freelancer. Or should I say, especially if you’re a freelancer? Be the person that folks gravitate to at your media outlet. Editors assign stories to journalists with whom they enjoy working. Follow directions. Take responsibility for your mistakes. Think what you can do to be helpful. For example, editors have often thanked me for always offering to provide art for my stories.

Viva la politesse! There are days where I wonder if being polite has gone out of fashion. Not in my book. If you want to succeed as a journalist, be well-mannered. Thank your sources for the gift of their time. Thank the support staff that helped set up the interview. Thank the person who suggested that source. Thank your computer technician. (No joke!) In the early 1990s, before email and internet, I worked at a newsmagazine called The Jerusalem Report. Every week, I spent considerable time sending out my stories to my interviewees via snail-mail. Being classy never goes out of style. It’s also good business practice: folks remember the person who took the time to say thank-you!

Chris Woodward, Executive Editor, Sport Fishing Magazine

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Glenn Law

My Background

A Florida native, Chris Woodward grew up fishing, boating, scuba diving and exploring the outdoors. Combined with a passion for storytelling and a degree in journalism, her experiences have logically led her to Sport Fishing magazine.

Woodward joined the Sport Fishing team as Editor in 2001, after 17 years as a newspaper and online journalist, covering lifestyle trends, hard news and eventually outdoor sports. She has worked for publications and websites in Dallas, San Francisco, New Orleans, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

In her current role as Executive Editor, Woodward coordinates boating coverage, reporting and relating relevant information about sport-fishing vessels, marine electronics and outboard engines. She writes, photographs and shoots video for most of the brand’s current platforms.

Woodward also works with freelance writers to produce feature packages on a wide variety of fishing-related topics.

Her nearly two decades with the brand have taken her to exotic fishing locations around the world — from the Caribbean to Australia. She has also witnessed the accelerating pace of electronic technology as a self-described gearhead.

Woodward’s volunteer positions have included serving on a boating advisory panel for the state of Georgia, on the board of directors for Boating Writers International, and as an advisory panel chair for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. She currently fishes a 22-foot bay boat in the waters off south coastal Georgia, where she works remotely from a home office.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Develop your situational awareness. Record and remember everything, including sounds, smells and sights during interviews and experiences. In my line of work, it’s also important to know dimensions. I keep a tape measure in my gear bag to gauge the height of a gunwale or the headroom inside a cabin.

2. Write down your questions for interviews. That keeps you from becoming distracted while you listen to answers. If a subject mentions something you want to circle back to cover, jot it down quickly in your notes.

3. When writing feature article leads, go as far outside of your comfort zone as you possibly can and then reel yourself back. Nobody’s going to see your first attempts. Challenge yourself.

4. Read continually. Read articles and books. Read fiction and nonfiction. Examine the flow of words and the power of active vs. passive expression.

5. Know that despite your best efforts, you might not be objective about everything. You will bring bias. Force yourself to take the opposite position on a topic, and then ask questions each side would like answered. One of the worst plagues of our generation is a rush to judgment. If you don’t know enough about a topic, research it. And don’t stop at reading one explanation.

Tessa Duvall, juvenile justice reporter, The Florida Times-Union

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My Background

Tessa Duvall joined The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville as the education, children and families reporter in December 2014. Her reporting focuses on the issues that affect children living in Northeast Florida, including juvenile justice and mental health.

As a John Jay College Center for Media, Crime and Justice fellow in 2016, Tessa began reporting extensively on juvenile life without parole and the years-long resentencing efforts underway in Florida. As a 2017 National Fellow and Fund for Journalism on Child Well-being grantee through the University of Southern California’s Center for Health Journalism, she will continue her reporting on the root causes of why a disproportionately high rate of Jacksonville-area kids commit homicide.

For her coverage of juvenile justice and the legal system, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sunshine State Awards and The Florida Press Club’s Excellence in Journalism each awarded Tessa first place in their respective justice reporting competitions for 2017. The Jacksonville-based Atlantic Institute also selected her as its 2017 Diversity in Media award recipient. Her reporting on the transformation of a troubled school led to her speaking at TEDxJacksonville in 2015.

Tessa graduated with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and sociology from Western Kentucky University in 2013, and spent a year covering education in the dusty oil fields of West Texas before moving to the Sunshine State. She previously interned at The Arizona Republic and The Commercial Appeal.

Outside of work, Tessa is actively involved as a volunteer with TEDxJacksonville and a member of the Junior League of Jacksonville, and is the proud human of her adopted dog, Bear.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1.Make the mos t out of every opportunity. You may not love your first job. You may land at an internship that isn’t what you expected. You may feel like you’re not being challenged enough. But, there are opportunities in any situation, even if they’re seemingly impossible to see sometimes. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I’ve been there. Can you use records to dig up the stories that will help you land a second job or a better beat? How can these experiences diversify your resume?

2.Never forget your stories are about real people. Interviewing people and telling their stories is a daily thing for us. But what feels like a routine day at work is often a nerve-wracking and significant experience for the every-day people our stories are about. What we write can affect their lives, for better or worse. Remembering this has helped me to keep the humanity in my stories.

3.Get comfortable with your reporting style. Some reporters are bulldogs. Some reporters take the “catch more flies with honey” approach. Neither is right or wrong as long as it works for you. I struggled with this until I got comfortable with what technique comes to me naturally. I thought in order to do hard-hitting work that I had to be a, brusque, no-nonsense kind of reporter who demanded answers and didn’t take crap from anyone. Now, I know I AM a hard-hitting reporter who doesn’t take crap, but the approach I am most effective with is conversational and relationship-based. I’m a beat reporter in a mid-sized market. I have to see my sources all the time. Some stories I write they won’t like; that’s inevitable. But, because they know me, they know that I’m going to get things right and be fair. It’s easier to move forward with the next story if my sources know they’ve been dealing with a genuine person all along.

4.Own your expertise. If you’re a beat reporter like me, you know the stories you write better than just about anyone else. It’s OK to be proud of that and you should take ownership of it.

5.Never stop looking for ways to keep getting better. My editor has nicknamed me the “CEO of Grants and Fellowships” because I’ve had such good luck getting others to pay for seminars, trainings and conferences that I want to attend. When money is tight, look for all the outside help you can get.

Kaitlin Westbrook, Content Writer, Vecteezy

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My Background

Kaitlin Westbrook grew up on a dairy farm in south central Kentucky. She currently works as a content writer for popular vector site, Vecteezy. Vecteezy is an award-winning brand that has been featured on Buzzfeed’s list of “”17 Websites that Will Change your Life.”” Vecteezy is also a branch of Eezy, a tech company that provides digital resources for creatives.

In her job, Kaitlin specializes in writing articles for professional creatives, such as graphic designers, artists, and marketers. Of all the benefits of this position, she most enjoys researching and interviewing artists.

She has been a contributing author for several professional blogs and graphic design sites, some of which can be seen below: • AdvertiseMint, • Bittbox, • Vectorgraphit, • BloggingPro, • Business2Community

Kaitlin has also been featured on Glassdoor’s blog for her unique writing style.

Before becoming a content writer, Kaitlin did support for companies like A Beautiful Mess, Brené Brown’s COURAGEworks, Studio DIY, and more. Prior to her professional career, Kaitlin attended Western Kentucky University, where she studied and double-majored in Film and English.

Kaitlin currently resides in the greater Nashville area, where she works full-time and eats too much takeout. When she’s not working, she enjoys movies, baking, and her Pomeranian.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Don’t be afraid to reach out

Putting yourself out there can be difficult, especially if you’re contacting someone you don’t know. Pitching guest posts, requesting interviews, and contributing content are all ways in which we make ourselves vulnerable. It’s easy to think, “”What if I’m being annoying? What if my content isn’t right?”” Well, so what? You may get numerous rejections and unread emails, but that’s okay. The more you make your work available, the better your chances are of finding the right audience.

2. Be your own advocate

While connections can be a great resource for getting work, it’s important to advocate for yourself, too. You have the most information regarding your accomplishments, and you — more than anyone else — know what your abilities are. Be willing to brag on yourself once in a while, because your confidence will inspire others to trust your accomplishments and abilities, too.

3. Be professional in your interactions

Self-advocating is only part of the battle. Once you’ve secured an opportunity, make sure you’re professional with your interactions. This includes meeting deadlines, of course, but it also includes reading and responding to emails. Emails shouldn’t go unanswered, and responses should be well-crafted and friendly. If you’re responding to an email with seven questions, make sure you answer all seven questions. People want to feel heard.

4. Use integrity in your writing

In the online world, we all want to rank for targeted keywords. In some cases, it may seem that good SEO translates to poor content quality. However, nothing could be further from the truth. If you have a great headline that hooks people, make sure you also have content that supports it. Readers want solid information, quality content, and sources they can trust. Ranking may gain clicks, but good writing will provide an audience.

5. Ditch perfectionism

If writers submitted only perfect pieces, virtually nothing would be published. In my experience, meeting a deadline matters far more than achieving the perfect conclusion. That’s not to say you shouldn’t feel pride in your work, but don’t get so caught up in details that you miss professional opportunities.

Tina Mulqueen, CEO, Kindred Marketing Company

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My Background

Tina is the CEO of Kindred Marketing Company. Born out of a cause marketing project while she was on the board of Susan G. Komen in Northern Nevada, Kindred now represents global clients in technology, retail and entertainment to tell stories that matter. Tina has served as the CMO for Grey Cloak Technologies, a publicly traded company that provides martech and adtech software solutions in online to offline marketing, digital advertising and influencer marketing. She’s also worked on behalf of Vanity Fair and CBS to get event coverage to trend online, and she’s consulted for Marie Claire on influencer marketing strategies for publishers. As media, she’s covered events like the Academy Awards, the Emmys, and Forbes Under 30 Summit. She’s a regular contributor to Forbes, and she write and speaks on the topics of retail and influencer marketing.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1: Read. To be successful in journalism, you have to know what great journalism looks like.

2: Travel. Whether it’s a destination or a subject, go where no one else has gone.

3: Show more than one perspective. Presenting thoughtful counter-arguments will strengthen the context of your piece.

4: Practice empathy. Moving your audience is about being able to step into their shoes.

5. Dig deeper. Never stop asking “why?”

Charell Star, Journalist/On-Air Talent, Not Just A Girl in A Dress

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Michelene J Wilkerson

My Background

Charell is a journalist and online media personality, contributor and featured lifestyle expert for on-air, on-camera and online video shows and segments. She has contributed to broadcast and digital media outlets such as HARRY, Fox 5 — Good Day New York, NBC 4 New York Live, Marie Claire, Business News Daily, and Second Look TV. She is also the founder, publisher, and writer of “Not Just a Girl in a Dress”, a highly popular lifestyle blog which shares inspiring stories and trending news that help women readers define their own versions of success.

In 2015, she was awarded Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Follow-Worthy Blogger of the Year, named to Quirky Brown Love’s list of “Most Amazing Bloggers,” and featured as “Hot Topic Blogger Host of the Day” on the Wendy Williams Show.

Charell is also a former foster care youth, and knows first hand the challenges facing the foster care population. She has been passionate about partnering with organizations, advocates, and brands that provide foster youth needed services, support and encouragement over the years”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Spend More Time Researching Than Reporting

o I cover a lot of tech, style, and living trends, and it is important to know as much as possible about a product, service or subject before I report on it. About 70 percent of my time working on a story or segment is actually spent doing research — actually learning about a product or industry, interviewing experts or subjects, and testing samples. 20 percent is spent writing the story or my segment notes and 10 percent is spent editing and double checking my facts. If you’ve done the research you can focus on the most important elements and unique angles to tell the most relevant and interesting story.

2. Invest Time Building Relationships

o Your network is extremely valuable in journalism, so you should invest time in getting to know editors, producers, sources, PR reps and other journalists before you need them. Having people you can tap into can be the difference between filing a great story and not being able to file one at all. I check in with my network regularly via email to find out what is going on with them and update them on what I’m working on. I want them to think of me first when they have a great story, tip or item that fits my beat.

3. Hustle For The Opportunities You Want

o I had trouble getting a response from a producer of a news network I really wanted to work with. None of my contacts knew her well enough to make an introduction so I researched connections we shared on LinkedIn. I sent connection requests to several contacts and the one person who accepted happened to live quite a distance from where I did. I introduced myself via email asked, asked if he’d open to meeting for lunch and when he accepted — took a two and half hour train ride to meet him. He was so impressed by my determination he made two amazing introductions for me — one to the original producer and one to another segment producer where he worked. You’d be surprised what doors you open when you actively go after what you want.

4. Own Up To Mistakes and Learn From Them

o You’re going to make mistakes along the way. Even the best journalist do. Admit your mistakes, apologize sincerely and learn from them. You’ll be a better journalist for it.

5. Find the “”Wow”” in Everything You Cover

o You’re going to get assignments or need to cover topics that don’t always excite you but are nevertheless important. Find something you love about it and let the story flow from there. It might be the fact that you get to be the one to demystify a new technology or get to be the conduit for an inspiring subject to share their story. The element that “”wows”” you, will probably resonate with your readers and viewers as well.

Terri Huggins Hart, Freelance Journalist

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My Background

Terri Huggins Hart is a freelance writer by day and a Zumba instructor by night. Her work can be found in Bridal Guide, Dance Magazine, Huffington Post, Daily Worth and more. She also manages a motivational lifestyle blog, blog.TerrificWords.com When she’s not writing or dancing, Terri can be found volunteering for a cause dear to her heart, finding new ways to aggressively beat down debt or playing with the Play-Doh she keeps in her purse.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1.Recognize there is power in numbers as in the number of pitches you send out, the number of phone calls you make and the number of times you follow up. When you first start out, it’s easy to say my goal is to write a certain amount of articles in a month, but you have no control over what an editor will say or do. Instead, make specific goals of the amount of pitches you’ll send out because the more you send, the greater your chance of getting an assignment.

2.Don’t be afraid of the phone. As writers, it feels more natural to write an email to an editor because talking on the phone can be scary. However, in my experience an email puts the deal on the table and a concise phone call closes the deal.

3.Use the rejection letter as a source of motivation. When pitching editors you don’t know, you’ll get a lot more ignored emails and no’s than you do letters of acceptance. The best thing I did was take those no’s as a reason to keep pitching. Every rejection email is the start of a relationship. If an editor read and responded to your email once, the chances of her reading and responding to another email is heightened. Use those no’s as a reason to keep going.

4.The best way to become an accomplished journalist is to just start doing it. Don’t wait for someone to give you a writing assignment. Come up with an idea and write about it. Publish it on your blog, make it a Facebook post, or send it to your local newspaper. That will give yourself and others something to talk about as you hustle to move up in the world of journalism. Until you start writing, get published or have clips, no one will take you seriously so just start doing it on your own. Eventually, it will lead to assignments you’ve desired.

5.Treat your editors like people. As a freelancer, it’s easy to think about your editor as an assignment pusher that helps you pay your bills. However, doing good work as well as building honest relationships is the best way to get repeat assignments as a journalist. Don’t be afraid to send them holiday cards, wish them a happy birthday, ask how you can help, or even ask how her vacation was if you know she’s been away.

Mary Frances Emmons, Deputy Editor Scuba Diving, Sport Diver and The Undersea Journal

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My Background

Mary Frances Emmons is a 30-year veteran of the journalism wars, having served at the Orlando Sentinel for nearly 20 of those years as a copy editor, page designer, associate magazine editor, art director, nightlife columnist, radio and TV personality and, for 10 years, Arts & Entertainment editor.

Since 2009, she has traveled the world as a writer, editor, photographer and underwater videographer for Bonnier Corporation’s scuba diving magazines: Scuba Diving, Sport Diver and The Undersea Journal.

She is a graduate of Brown University, with a BA in Russian Studies, and holds a Masters in Journalism from the University of Georgia. She lives with her husband — another veteran journalist — in Orlando, Florida, where she was born and raised and where for 20 years she contributed keyboards, bass and vocals to a series of local indie bands.

In 2005, Mary Frances Emmons was named a USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Fellow by the Getty Foundation. “

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Your word is your bond. Your reputation is often all that a source has to go on when that person is deciding whether to trust you with his or her story. Once lost, it’s gone for good.

2. Spend more time listening — and reading — than speaking.

3. Never refuse an invitation. The most interesting stories often appear when you think you are on your way somewhere else. Be alert, be open, and make time for the detours in life, even when you think you can’t possibly do so. Sometimes the picture — or the story — is behind you.

4. Deadlines matter. A plan without a deadline is called a wish.

5. Don’t fear the fail. Success is not the best teacher, and it won’t endear you to anybody. The world loves an adventurous spirit who knows how to own a failure — and how to pick up and get on with it afterward. (Bonus if you can laugh at yourself while you’re doing it.)

Asha Dahya, editor-in-chief, GirlTalkHQ.com

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My Background

Asha Dahya is a journalist, writer and content creator. She has worked for MTV, Nickelodeon, Disney, Fox, ABC, MSN, CW, and The Food Network, producing and hosting both digital and broadcast shows. She holds a BA with a double major in Film and Journalism. Asha is also the founder and editor-in-chief of GirlTalkHQ.com, a daily feminist news blog. She is passionate about religion, reproductive rights, and the representation of women.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

As someone who has created my own platform, built a list of sources, clients and brand partners, I have acquired some key tips along the way that can especially help journalists who want to “brand” themselves.

1. Find an issue you are most passionate about and start reading articles by other journalists who are already an expert in this area.

2. build a list of go-to sources that you can regularly call upon for quotes and information. This could be non-profits, individuals, community leaders, companies etc.

3. Don’t wait for the big jobs to find you. Make use of platforms like Medium or Wordpress where you can begin writing articles and building up a bank of content that adds credibility to you as a journalist.

4. Be active on social media! Follow other journalists, tweet articles with pull-quotes. Reach out to other journos and comment on their work. Develop a rapport with media organizations through social media.

5. Finally, be wary of trying to be the first to tweet, write or publish something. Speed can be the enemy of accuracy. If you want to build up a reputation as a legitimate source, whether you’re trying to eventually land a job at a major media network or be a reputable freelancer, be your own best editor.

Pia Bergqvist, Executive Editor, Flying Magazine

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My Background

Pia Bergqvist is an aviation journalist who works as Flying Magazine’s executive editor. As such, she covers general aviation topics in large feature stories in the magazine as well as short news pieces for publication online. Topics include avionics, equipment, training, industry news, flight reports on a variety of different airplanes and more. In addition to her writing, Pia participates in videos and has presented speeches at aviation conventions and events, including a major general aviation industry event in China.

A passionate pilot with 15 years and about 3,500 hours of flight experience, Pia is a commercial pilot and a multi- and single-engine instrument flight instructor. Pia has flown GA airplanes throughout most of the United States, including Alaska, as well as Europe and Mexico. Special certifications include a type rating in Honda Aircraft’s recently certified HA-420 HondaJet and a race-license to fly at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada. She is also a qualified formation pilot and has conducted numerous photo-flights both flying the photo-ship and the subject aircraft to help photographers create images for stories.

Pia has flown many different types of airplanes, including light-sport aircraft and other small piston airplanes, twin-pistons, turboprops and jets. In the past she has worked as a flight instructor at a major flight school in southern California, a west coast sales representative for the Liberty XL2 — a two-seat piston airplane, and a demo pilot for the Cessna TTx — a four-seat turboprop that she describes as a sports car with wings. She has owned two types of airplanes: a 1948 Cessna 170 and a 1974 Mooney M20C.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1.Write about something you’re passionate about. The only way to gain credibility as a journalist is if you know your subject well. Learn everything you can. Become an expert. Keep reading about current issues that relate to your area of expertise. In most interesting industries, such as the aviation industry, there is always something new to learn. If you’re not passionate about what you’re writing about, you won’t succeed.

2.Maintain good relationships with people in your industry. My best job opportunities have come from people I have had a chance to meet and develop relationships with at industry events. Always be nice and courteous, and help others when you can. But be honest in your writing. Don’t sugar coat reports to help your friends, as you will lose credibility. Don’t gossip even if you don’t like someone. Your industry is likely not big enough for people who are not team players.

3.Take a step back. When you are working on a big feature story, don’t try to crank it out in a few days. Make sure you give yourself enough time to step away from the story for a day or two. Your brain will process the information when you’re not writing. When you come back to the piece you might have a completely different perspective.

4.Get out of your comfort zone. As a journalist, you might get asked to do thing that you ordinarily wouldn’t. Take a risk. A bit of fear enhances creativity.

5.Welcome critique. The only way that your journalistic skills will improve is with the help of a mentor that is willing and able to help you improve. Take the criticism with grace. It is likely that, at some point, someone will give you very harsh critique, particularly online where the person critiquing is anonymous. Rather than to get upset about those mean words, take your ego out of it and try to learn from them, if possible. But don’t let them discourage you from continuing to do what you love.

Michelle Mekky, Founder & CEO of Mekky Media and Former Senior Producer Fox Television

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My Background

Michelle Mekky is a media and PR veteran, with more than 20 years of experience both as a broadcast journalist and PR executive, leading award-winning marketing and PR campaigns for some of the nation’s biggest brands and diverse businesses — from start-ups to global powerhouses. With great drive, work ethic and enthusiasm, Michelle is a master connector and has a natural skill and personality that creates success for her clients. She launched her own company Mekky Media Relations in 2016 to bring her brand of PR to the market to cut through the clutter and generate powerful publicity.

Michelle is a graduate of Northwestern University, achieving both her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree from the renowned Medill School of Journalism. She has always had a passion for writing and telling stories, first falling in love with broadcast television, where she spent over a decade as a Senior Producer and news writer for Fox-TV in Chicago. She created compelling content for the morning shows, producing live lifestyle and news segments featuring a wide range of guests from famous chefs to politicians to actors to athletes. She also worked as a news writer at NBC and reported for WISC-TV in Madison Wisconsin while finalizing her Master’s Degree program in Washington, D.C. After her years as a veteran journalist, Michelle transitioned into a career in public relations and marketing, spending over ten years at agencies in Chicago where she was able to use her insider media knowledge and widespread connections to achieve success and top-tier media coverage for the clients she managed.

She has led PR strategy in multiple industries including non-profits, hospitality, technology, retail, culinary, entertainment, healthcare, fitness, legal and more. Top client experience includes Susan G. Komen Chicago, Illinois Office of Tourism, Turkish Airlines, Porkchop Chicago, Big Game Air, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Four Corners Tavern Group, Wealth Management Group and much more.

Career highlights include performing as Master of Ceremonies for multiple client events, including a launch press conference where she interviewed Kobe Bryant in front of an audience of reporters, and hosting multiple international press trips with top-tier editors. She is also a media trainer, with the innate ability to prepare spokespeople to know exactly how to master their moment in front of the spotlight. She has expertise in crisis communications, social media campaigns and branding development.

Michelle is a believer that with positive energy and determination, anything can be accomplished

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1.Develop your go-to sources you can trust — I used to be pitched by thousands of publicists on a daily basis, but I had my go-to people who I went to when I needed something and I knew they could deliver.

2.Screen your guests thoroughly — Sometimes someone who seems super confident and outgoing completely clams up on camera. Insist on previous experience or even past clips to ensure your guest will be amazing.

3.Be relentless to find the story — Sometimes we have to cold call and push hard to get that great guest. They don’t always come easy. But when you do it’s worth it! Just know there could be a lot of no’s and challenges first.

4.Network and get out of the dark newsroom — Don’t let the rough hours prevent you from making important contacts for your future. You may not be a journalist forever! Get out and meet people when you can! It will completely pay off.

5.Don’t let the tough stories affect you — I used to have to write some of the most horrific news stories and I would take all of that sadness home. It will burn you out and depress you. Your job is to help tell those stories. But learn to draw a line when you can.

Rebecca Vogels, Founder, All of the Above

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My Background

Rebecca Vogels is a brand strategist and founder of the agency All of the Above. She helps startups with brand development, messaging, and go-to-market strategy.

Rebecca is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, using a narrative approach to report on “Women in Tech.” A case-based approach to interviews and reporting highlights how opportunities emerge and challenges are faced by women in the tech industry. For her “Women in Tech” series, she interviewed startup founders, C-level executives, and investors in Silicon Valley.

Based in Vienna, Austria, Rebecca is also a contributor to German magazines such as t3n, Deutsche Startups and WOMAN.

She writes about Women in Tech, career advancement, brand communication, and thought leadership for brands.

Rebecca received her Ph. D. in music history from University Arts, Berlin and Harvard University and later produced Radio Kaffeehaus in Vienna, an in-depth reporting platform on language and culture in Europe. In 2017, Rebecca was listed as one of 5 people to follow on Twitter by the German Tech Magazine Deutsche Startups and named one of the Top 25 Female Entrepreneurs in Austria by the Austrian magazine Futurezone.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Establish a personal connection

When you are interviewing someone, try to establish a personal connection first. Make a personal connection by seeking shared interests, or anything you may have in common, be it education, taste in music, or travel experience. The person you are interviewing might be busy that you are adding another task to their day. If you are looking to get more than standard answers that might have already been published elsewhere, you must build a relationship with your source.

There are at least two people in every story

I love this quote by Ansel Adams, which says: “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” The same is true for stories. There is the person writing them and the one reading them. Everybody comes to a story with their own experiences, worldview, and values. For readers, stories are — at best — an opportunity to expand their understanding of the world. For journalists, it is important to understand and manage their biases.

There are many ways you can take a picture or write a story. The American Press Institute has resources on understanding one’s own biases that might be useful for those starting out: “The job of journalists is not to stamp out bias. Rather, the journalist should learn how to manage it.”

Prepare your questions in advance

Preparing your questions in advance will keep you on track during the interview. Your questions will provide a roadmap and still offer opportunity to branch out when new story lines emerge.

If you screw something up, take full responsibility.

This is just basic life advice, but it goes for reporting as well.

In what different ways could you tell a story?

You don’t need to be a journalist to publish a story. People are doing it constantly, when they are tweeting, posting a picture, or creating an Instagram story. In what different ways can you tell a story? How would you tell a story using only emojis? A series of text messages?

With technological advances, publishing is evolving every second and new formats of storytelling are coming up constantly. Try to break out of your bubble, talk to teenagers about what they are reading and the apps they are using, try something new. The only constant is change is true for publishing as well.

Kaitlyn Chana, Founder & President, Reel Stories. Real People., Inc.

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Anetta Nadolna Photography

My Background

Since Kaitlyn Chana was knee high she wanted to be a storyteller; she is a journalist that strives for purpose, brings truth, and helps others. Her passion for storytelling was cultivated after spending time with children with life-threatening illnesses in hospitals through her previous nonprofit organization, Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness, Inc. As a teenager, she traveled the country speaking about volunteerism as a Congressional Gold Medalist, a 2010 Winter Olympic Torchbearer, and as a spokesperson for the clothing store, Aeropostale. Upon college graduation, she planted her boots in Maine where she reported for two years for an NBC station; Kaitlyn researched, shot, wrote, edited, and anchored her daily stories. She traded in her snow boots for rain boots after taking a position at Action News Jax in December 2015. She asks people to tell their story on a daily basis, which, in turn, compelled her to share her story with you. Kaitlyn is a survivor of three different eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorders. For about ten years her weight talked when she couldn’t verbally say how she was feeling. She uses her pain in an effort to educate people about this mental illness. Kaitlyn founded Reel Stories. Real People., Inc., (www.ReelStoriesRealPeople.org) in hopes to share the positive work being done by others through storytelling. Through her nonprofit organization, they’ve completed the script for a narrative educational film and guided curriculum on eating disorders to be used in public health classrooms nationwide. This film, along with the guided curriculum, will be provided free-of charge to higher education institutes. It is the goal of our 501(c)(3) organization, Reel Stories. Real People. Inc., to help teachers redirect the conversation on mental health by providing informative preventative care resources. Kaitlyn’s team is working on raising at least $120,000 to cover the equipment rentals, actors, location fees, and permits for the shoot. The longer an eating disorder goes untreated, the more advanced it is likely to become and the more difficult it will be to treat. She lives by the motto, “It only takes one person to move a mountain and then others will follow,” and she hopes that quote inspires others to do the unimaginable.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Kaitlyn approaches her day with the belief that everyone in life has a personal story and whether it is one of excitement, desperation, hurt, or a driven message she has the desire to tell it. She is motivated by witnessing viewers step up and do their part to help the person or family she interviewed in her community.

Here are her tips to excel in this business:

1)Work hard, stay focused, and never lose your curiosity because your questions may provide answers to help others live.

2)Use your resources around you. Journalist are surrounded by talented, authentic, and knowledgeable staff members so it’s important reporters seek them out and listen to their critiques and suggestions about your work.

3)Teamwork makes the dream work. When you’re working with a photographer they’re your teammate in the field. Rely on each other — and together you’ll be able to achieve more in your storytelling.

4)Get involved. Find what makes you tick and go after those stories with conviction. If that means you need to attend meetings on your day off, meet someone for coffee, or research documents before or after work then do it!

5)Networking is key. The ability to network is one of the most crucial skills any storyteller can have. How else will you meet or hear someone’s story that is original and turn into an exclusive interview?

Kaitlyn’s goal is to tell stories that inspire others, gives them goose bumps, and provoke people to take action. That should be the objective for every storyteller.

Kelly Hayes-Raitt, freelance

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My Background

Kelly Hayes-Raitt is an award-winning journalist who focuses on stories about human rights, refugees, women’s rights, consumer safety and environmental protection. Her reporting from Iraq led to an inquiry into how Iraqis were shut out of receiving U.S. taxpayer-funded contracts to rebuild their own country. She has reported from an off-limits scorpion-infested refugee camp in Syria, a jail in Manilla, sex clubs in the Philippines, and bombed homes in Baghdad.

Her column in Los Angeles’ The Argonaut was named second-best by the Southern California Journalists Association and she has won several literary awards for her reporting. Her journalism appears in several anthologies, including the Benjamin Franklin award-winning “”The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays,”” an anthology used in college classrooms.

To finance her writing and reporting, she travels full-time by housesitting and has recently published “”How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva,”” while she completes a book of literary journalism about her experiences with refugees. She has traveled through 65 countries, reporting, housesitting, scuba diving, and attempting to learn “”hello”” and “”thank you”” in every language. (Don’t quiz her!)

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Freelance journalists face special obstacles — but also enjoy special access. Without the protection of an accredited outlet, freelancers are not bound by the obligation to identify themselves as reporters. (I represent myself — truthfully — as a curious activist.) My dual role as an activist/citizen journalist has provided access to places where accredited journalists are forbidden.

My top 5 tips for freelancers:

1. Get the story first and worry about where it will be placed later.

2. Be creative about getting your story published. Some of my stories have had more (and longer-lasting) impact by being included in anthologies than by being published in a newspaper.

3. Be generous with your story. Sometimes I’ve been able to offer my stories for free because my travel and work were underwritten by other means — grants, donations. To me, the most important thing is getting the story out there!

4. Allow others to write about you. After publishing my book “”How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva”” (which is how I partially finance my reporting and traveling), I’ve pitched my book to reporters writing stories about affordable travel, tips for keeping women travelers safe, creating an artist/writing retreat through housesitting, etc. By allowing others to report on my book, I’ve increased both my sales — and my opportunities to report on other subjects.

5. Lecture about your subject. After my first trip to Iraq in February 2003, five weeks before the U.S.-led invasion, I addressed more than 200 audiences (including Congresswomen on International Women’s Day) about my experiences. Often, the speaking engagements led to placements for my articles and/or interviews with me on local TV, radio, podcasts or in newspapers. Again, get the story out there!”

Keryce Chelsi Henry, Writer, Freelance

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My Background

Keryce Chelsi Henry is a freelance writer. Born in the Bronx, NY, and raised in Queens, she graduated from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where she studied Writing Seminars and Entrepreneurship & Management after she realized she’d never pass her Chemistry requirements as a Pre-Med student. Post-college, she interned and was subsequently employed at NYLON, and worked up the ranks to Senior Editor. As such, she primarily oversaw music coverage in the print magazine, which entailed booking and editing features on musicians, including Kali Uchis, Paramore, Goldlink, Liam Gallagher, and many more. In addition, she has written a number of features for ‘NYLON’ and NYLON.com, such as a guide to bodega eats, a profile on SZA, and the August 2016 cover story on pop/R&B singer Tinashe. She has also interviewed the likes of Tori Amos and Amandla Stenberg for NYLON’s Facebook Live, and hosted the music news segment of ‘NYLON News’ on Amazon. Currently, she is enjoying the fruits of self-employment while working on various projects, and regularly contributing to the digital publication Damn Joan. When she’s not doing that, she’s dramatically changing her hairstyle, trying to cook Guyanese food like her mom does, or taking a well-deserved nap.”

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Get it on paper. Regardless of how it sounds at first, write it all down — the good, the bad, the grammatically incorrect. Clean it up later.

2. More often than not, inspiration needs to be chased. That means you should read more than you write, and go to museums regularly. Travel if you can, and if you can’t, watch a documentary about the location you wanted to travel to. It can be as good as the real thing, albeit with fewer Instagram opps.

3. Share the wealth. Working in our field, especially as women, is enough of a struggle so don’t make it any harder for your fellow writer/editor. As they say, everybody eats.

4. Not writing is a part of the writing process. Taking a step away from your work can make all of the difference. Do a lap around the block when you’re stuck and that pesky intro paragraph will write itself. I guarantee it.

5. Put your health first. We can get so consumed by our work that we forget to take care of ourselves. Whether you’re finally getting that cramp in your hip checked out, unloading with a therapist, or simply taking a night off to hang with your friends, your work will be better because of it.

Maria Baeta, Editor, Softonic.com

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My Background

I’m Maria. I write for Softonic.com, the world’s biggest website that no one has ever heard of :) (we see 100M unique visitors per month but most people have never heard of us, especially note millenials). Our site is the place to go to download desktop software, and I entertain readers in English and Spanish with tips and tricks on how to get the most of out of apps, how to keep their data away from prying eyes…to get things for free online and everything in between.

Being an editor at Softonic isn’t always easy, as our audience is spread out in equal measures across the globe and it’s not always simple to figure out “”who”” we are writing for.

I’ve been writing for Softonic for the past 10 years and still haven’t really cracked the code, but my favorite thing to write about by far is social media. In the past I’ve been the “”face”” of Softonic in Spanish, appearing in our YouTube videos, reviewing apps and rounding up tech news.

In my free time I’m a singer in a swing-jazz band here in Barcelona called Old Steam.””

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Come out of your “bubble”

A good journalist is a curious person, even a little bit nosy…we want to know something about just about everything.

Being a “jack of all trades” doesn’t only open you up to new professional challenges but it is also a way of connecting with your audience. For example, while your specialty might be technology, knowing about politics, sports and even trash TV will help you create content that is a reflection in the real world inhabited by the user.

2. Don’t be a 24/7 journalist

Most journalists tend to be “always on”, but sometimes it’s nice to deactivate this critical filter and to see the world with other eyes. If you are a film writer, enjoy a movie like when you were a kid. If you’re a tech journalist, try that new gadget without thinking of the technical specs. If you’re a political correspondent, listen to that new candidate’s speech with the ears of the average voter and not those of an expert analyst.

3. Make any space your workplace

While the advantage of working remotely is being able to do it from anywhere, make sure that your workplace — be it a habitual one or a temporary one — has a personal touch. Take your favorite pens with you, that notebook you are obsessed with, an action figure you love or pimp up your laptop so that cold coffee shop table feels more like home.

4. Don’t go to war, learn from your rival

Sometimes, especially when you are writing online, you are competing with many other journalists. Don’t see them as rivals but instead as people you can learn from. Follow your colleagues on social media, talk to them at events (and don’t just talk about work) and learn from their experiences. No more hate!

5. Above all, be a storyteller

In our quest to write the perfect article, something we forget something: the need to create content pieces that really have value for the user. It’s great to have your own personal style and to respect it, but don’t forget that you are a storyteller: make sure your content honors the need to tell stories for your readers above your own ego.

Judith Newman

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My Background

Judith Newman writes about entertainment, science, business, beauty, and popular culture for a wide variety of publications, including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Prevention, AARP, and National Geographic. As a book reviewer, she reviews regularly for People and writes the column on “Help Desk” The York Times Book Review. She is a contributing editor for Allure and Prevention, and has been widely anthologized and won numerous awards for her journalism, including an LA Press Award for her reporting on the business empire of the Kardashians for The Hollywood Reporter.

Newman’s upcoming book for Harper Collins, To Siri With Love, was inspired by a 2014 article in the New York Times inspired by her her autistic son’s relationship with Siri; it became the most emailed piece in the newspaper that year. She has also co-authored several books, including The Girl: A Life In The Shadow of Roman Polanski. Earlier, Miramax published her memoir, You Make Me Feel Like An Unnatural Woman: Diary of a New (Old) Mother, about becoming a mother late(ish) in life.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Be nosy.

2. Be even nosier than that. You think this is silly? Everyone wants to talk about themselves, and there are very few people who are really interested in listening. 3. Either be a genius or be reliable. It would nice to be a reliable genius, but there aren’t too many of those. My point being, there are very few people who can get away with being divas, and you’re probably not one of them. So say what you’re going to do and do it, in a reasonably timely fashion.

4. Think less about what you want and more about what your readers want/need. I know this is rich, coming from someone who writes a lot of personal essays. But I do think that even if memoir is your jam, give some thought to whether what you’re writing will connect with other people, and not just with your mother and second cousin.

5. When you can, be kind. This one took me a long time to learn. I used to to be snarky if it meant getting in a good joke, and among my few regrets in life were various bon mots at the expense of regular people who couldn’t fight back. And you know what? Even if they can. Ps, ignore this advice is the people you’re writing about are genuinely a)jackasses or b)the President.

Mandy Jenkins, Editor-in-Cheif, Storyful

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My Background

Mandy Jenkins is Editor-in-Chief at Storyful, overseeing an editorial team that works with newsrooms to find, verify and publish eyewitness media and social insights from around the world.

Jenkins previously worked as managing editor of Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome, a national newsroom which supported more than 200 local newspapers across the U.S. in producing digital journalism projects before its closure in April 2014. Prior to that, Jenkins coordinated the OfftheBus citizen journalism program as social news editor for politics at The Huffington Post during the 2012 U.S. presidential primaries. In 2010, Jenkins was part of a team of journalists who launched Washington, D.C. local news startup TBD, where, as social media editor, she led several high-profile community engagement projects and crowdsourced breaking news stories. Jenkins also worked in several digital news roles at the Cincinnati Enquirer, where she proposed a blueprint for the newspaper’s earliest social media strategy, and then became the newspaper’s first social media editor in 2008. She got her professional start as an online news producer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Jenkins holds a BS in journalism and an MA in media management from Kent State University, where she also co-founded the student-run LGBT publication Fusion magazine. Jenkins serves on the Board of Directors of the American Society of News Editors, and is also President of the Online News Association’s Board of Directors. She hails from Ohio, resides in New York City and lives on the internet.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1. Don’t be married to your career plan. It’s fine to have a rough idea of what you want from your career as a journalist and how you want to progress over time, but don’t let them end up holding you back from exploring roles or newsrooms that don’t fit your best-laid plans. This industry is changing fast, and your perfect job might not even exist yet.

2. Get in the door, then find a way to make the job you really want. For every job I have ever had, I was the first one to do it. The key to pitching for the sort of position I wanted was to spot the holes in the newsroom, the tasks, workflows, stories and skills lacking, and create a job that fills that void. The worst that can happen is someone says “no”.

3. Recalibrate your idea of growth. So many times in my career, I have encountered young journalists who believe they need to be given promotions and new titles to prove that they are growing in their careers. Remember there are plenty of people out there who have had the title of “reporter” for decades, and they made it a point to get better at that job every day. Learn new skills, develop a specialty, pick up a new language or lead a project — those accomplishments will mean more to current and future employers than some title change ever will.

4. Lead from where you are. Similarly, one doesn’t have to be a manager or have a fancy title to be a leader in their newsroom. Anyone at any level can make an impression by speaking up in meetings, volunteering to take the lead on new initiatives and actually being the change they want to see in their newsroom.

5. Cultivate your relationships, as they are the greatest assets you have. I have been laid off twice in my career, and both times felt like the end of the world. But it wasn’t — and that was due to my network of friends and colleagues who helped me find my footing. Be a good professional friend to those above you, below you and alongside you in your newsroom and in your community. Offer help on projects, give feedback when asked, teach someone a skill, connect people to opportunities — and above all, be available to help those in need. Someday it might be you.

Sherry Amatenstein, freelance journalist

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Eric Weiss Photo

My Background

As a child of holocaust survivors I was drawn to journalism because it seemed a fabulous way of carrying out my mission of helping those who had no way of helping themselves. Over the ensuing decades I have written for many publications including Washington Post, New York, This Week, vox.com, Observer, Hemispheres, New York Daily News, The Forward and damemagazine.com. I have written about street kids in Rio for Hemispheres — a piece that the magazine named among their most impactful in their 10th anniversary issue, interviewed Steven Spielberg for two USA Weekend, cover stories 20 years apart about his visual history foundation USC Shoah, which videotapes the testimony of the survivors of genocide, and traveled to Ghana to write a piece for the New Jersey Star Ledger about local ‘witches camps’ — places where elderly widows are sent after being cast out by superstitious villagers. I am also a therapist, and a vox.com piece I wrote about what mental health care professionals are doing to have Trump declared mentally incompetent

Elitedaily.com got me named #88¬ — above Samantha Bee! — on a list of 100 women who stood up to Trump in his first 100 days of office. I also write articles geared to helping normalize the precedence of mental health issues, to show sufferers they deserve to get help, not hide from shame. Indeed, my latest book, an anthology HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? True Confessions from Both Sides of the Therapy Couch offers first person essays from therapists (including myself) letting our own fears and imperfections see air! I taught journalism for 20 years for New School and New York University in New York City and co-run a weekend retreat each summer with Amy Ferris and Blair Glaser at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York: Women Writing to Change the World, which helps women break their silence, change the world and manifest the spirit of unstoppable community and action.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Tap into your curiosity

Oftentimes my journalism students know they want to write but don’t know what to write about. I say, “Turn on your curiosity like you turn on the faucet.” I give an assignment, at the first class: For one week truly notice everything going on around you and jot down at least “10 Ideas from Life.” An overheard conversation might spark an idea or a wacky street sign, something you read, or a conversation at the Apple Store… The point of the exercise isn’t necessarily to come up with viral ideas but to not start asking, “Hmm, what’s this really about?”

Aim for the impossible

It’s understandable, especially when starting out, to accept a “no” or not even ask because you anticipate a turndown. But in pursuit of a good story, or to turn a good story into a great one you need to take chances even when you are terrified. If you want to interview someone who is hard to get, research everything you can find on this person, find the one avenue this person really, really cares about. For example I wanted to reach Steven Spielberg’s publicist with a query not on his film but his non-profit USC Shoah Foundation, which was a true — and at the time — relatively unpublicized passion.

Make your writing shine and be grammatical

Especially with dashed off tweets and status updates it feels unnatural to polish our pitches and pieces. With so much mediocre stuff out there and the pressure of insta-deadlines, stand out by not just being quick but making an effort with your prose. Instead of saying, “He was scared” challenge yourself by thinking how a master like Styron expressed this emotion: “Fear tasted like brass.”

Write every article like it’s the most important one of your career

It’s obvious when you write an article with your eye on the clock — “I’m only getting $50 and it’s for a crappy website no one reads. It’s not worth more than one-half hour of my time.” I’m not advising putting the effort in like it’s a New York Times Sunday Magazine feature but if you let your boredom and/or sense of being taken advantage of infiltrate what you type on the screen, you’re cheating not just the reader but damaging your ability to get better assignments.

Don’t fall for fake news

Fact check!!

Allison Tate, Director, Editorial Video, Pride Media

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My Background

Allison Tate is a video journalist and award-winning filmmaker in Los Angeles. She began reporting while in college for the entertainment outlet BeyondTheMarquee.com. By interviewing celebrities on red carpets to museum curators in the U.K., she gained experience as an international correspondent.

After graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts she started at Pride Media as the Editorial Assistant to Lucas Grindley, Editor of The Advocate and President of Pride Media. In this position, she went above and beyond her administrative duties and created short documentaries about LGBT life, before there was a video team. After working her way up to Director of Editorial Video, she now supervises a growing team of queer and trans videographers, and directs all original productions for the world’s largest LGBT brands including The Advocate, OUT Magazine and Pride.com. She has covered everything from protest marches to the Cannes Film Festival and interviewed luminaries such as Christine Vachon and Jill Soloway.

Her work as a filmmaker has been seen and screened around the world. Her recent short comedy Carol Support Group, about 12-step meeting of people addicted to the film Carol, premiered at Frameline Film Festival and was featured in WIRED. Prior to that, her one-take short film, A Kiss From Your Lips, won several awards and was featured on Upworthy.

As a proud queer woman in media, she works to amplify marginalized voices. She looks forward to growing the Pride Media video team and using media to encourage equality around the world. AllisonFilms.com””

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

5. Know Your Own Story. Being able to identify the pivotal emotional turning points moments in your life story will help you find those moments in other people’s stories. Hone those moments in your pieces — it’s what the audience remembers.

4. Make The Most Of What You Have. When I started as an editorial assistant, all I had was a DLSR, a microphone and ideas. In addition to my full-time administrative demands, I made the most of my new platform and opportunities by creating mini-documentaries about queer stories I wasn’t seeing. This included filming a friend with cerebral palsy navigating L.A. Pride the day after the Pulse shooting, covering a queer sock hop, and tracking a trans man at his first Trans Pride. Pitch bold stories, work late (sometimes), and use your multimedia tools to the max. People will notice the effort and reward it. Because I went beyond my job description, I earned a new one.

3. All Ideas Are Welcome. When my boss asks for everyone’s opinion in mornings meetings I feel welcome and valued. I’m committed to fostering that same feeling in my team and interns. I may be a leader, but I don’t have to have all the answers. And neither do you. You don’t have to jump to a solution as soon as you spot a problem. You can instead point out the challenges as you see them, then ask teammates and interns for their opinion. Marvel at the solutions.

2. Self-Assess. You’re the only one in your head while you’re out in the field. What is nagging you? What are you itching to ask? What do you wish you had said? Your boss may not assign this, but take some time after each project to debrief with your team or at least yourself. Write notes or make mental notes about what went well and what could be better. Then give yourself credit when you learn from those notes next time. You’ll see your growth and be proud of it.

  1. Trust Your Instincts. They’re always right. That instinct is your true voice eager to be heard.”

Saralyn Ward, Founder of The Mama Sagas, Writer and Parenting Correspondent for Colorado’s Everyday Show

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My Background

Saralyn Ward is a writer, producer and television host whose passion is to inspire and empower others to live their best life. She writes for Colorado Parent Magazine, Dance Magazine, Women of Denver Magazine, elephant journal, liveplayluxe, and The Broadview Denver, and has contributed content to many other platforms including HuffPost, Gaiam.com, MyGroupFit.com, Dance Spirit Magazine, and FitPro Magazine. As the regular parenting correspondent for Colorado’s Everyday Show, Saralyn offers tips to survive parenthood on live morning TV, and was named an Official Artist of the 2015 New York Television Festival. With over 14 years of experience as an educator in health and wellness, Saralyn is committed to using media to entertain and inform, giving her audience the tools they need to elevate their lives.

Saralyn has launched three websites in the parenting and health and wellness verticals, and is the force behind The Mama Sagas: a digital video series and blog that celebrates the raw beauty of the motherhood experience. Using stories to break down stigmas, The Mama Sagas is building a village of compassionate and purpose-driven mamas lifting their voices together. The digital video series was selected as a finalist in A&E Network’s 360˚ Unscripted Development Pipeline Competition, and women from all walks of life have contributed their stories to the blog.

Saralyn is a firm believer in the power of story to transform and illuminate our true potential, both individually and globally. In her teaching, producing and writing, she makes it her mission to help people live a robust life. When she’s not making her daydreams a reality, Saralyn is trying to remember that the two little girls that call her mom are not the boss of her. You can connect to Saralyn on Facebook orLinkedIn.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

1) Always seek the humanity in every story. Story is a powerful tool to build empathy, create community and transform lives, but only if it is relatable.

2) Don’t be afraid to knock on doors. Much of your time spent as a journalist will be in pitch mode. Get comfortable and confident with what you have to offer, and always remain polite and professional. You never know where that next introduction could take you.

3) You don’t always need a new story, you just need to tell it a new way. Sometimes the most powerful stories are those that broaden our perspectives about a topic we thought we understood.

4) Watch yourself on camera. Watching your appearances on TV or film will help you notice verbal tics, learn what to wear and how to sit. But when you’re on set and the camera is rolling, try to forget all of it and focus only on speaking slowly and surely.

5) Be human. When you are on camera, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to look and act perfect. But the audience will appreciate your message so much more if they understand that you are just like them. Use your voice to share the truth, and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Your audience will thank you for it.”

Susan Hornik, freelance writer for several publications

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My Background

I am a veteran entertainment/lifestyle journalist, and have written for numerous publications like Los Angeles Blade, Men’s Health, LA Weekly, regional publications like Boca Raton Observer, and Industry magazine.

My Top 5 Tips to Excel as a Journalist

Ultimately, it’s about balance; being aggressive but not pushy, being patient with editors but being proactive about following up as much as possible. And the ability to really listen and empathize is key. When I interview celebrities, I make sure they know I care about what they are saying, no matter what topic.

In terms of actual interviewing: Staying on point, doing your homework prior to — all very important.

Being freelance, I have to be comfortable wearing many hats. Can.

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