By Olivia Ingle ’12
Most people travel to New Orleans and visit the French Quarter for a break from their professional lives.
I traveled to the Big Easy to work and was met with a daily dose of source interviews, story deadlines, career mentoring and inspiration.
I was there with a band of about 15 journalists, my colleagues on The Working Press,a daily tabloid that covered the Excellence in Journalism convention in New Orleans Sept. 25–28. The convention was a joint effort between the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association.
The Working Press student staff consisted of five reporters, two copy editors, three designers and three photographers. Professional advisers assisted each student section.
The advisers brought many years of experience from news organizations such as The New York Times, the Associated Press, the Dow Jones News Fund and the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss.
I wrote eight news stories while in New Orleans. Several are profiles on journalism professionals and start-up ventures. A couple of them covered events at the convention, such as the opening night reception and a session with NPR’s Andy Carvin. (Working Press stories are posted at http://workingpress.spjnetwork.org/)
Although I will take the reporting experience that I gained at the convention and use it to its full potential, the mentoring I received from my advisers will prove most valuable.
As a reporter on a tight deadline, one of the most important pieces of advice I received was from adviser Reggie Stuart, veteran reporter and corporate recruiter for The McClatchy Company.
He said journalists must be “respectfully rude.”
I learned that extreme measures, such as interrupting a meeting or asking someone to step out into the hallway to answer questions during dinner, must be taken sometimes in order to meet deadlines as a journalist.
One of the most inspiring events I attended at the convention was the session by Soledad O’Brien, CNN anchor and special correspondent.
She discussed her career, her transition into a new position at CNN and how she juggles her private and professional lives.
She also offered her perspective on the media industry.
“I think there are more jobs and outlets today than when I started in news,” O’Brien said. “I refuse to be depressed about the industry.”
Listening and talking to the professional journalists reminded me why I want to enter the profession. I want to tell stories that would never be told otherwise.
Although I have known for some time that I want to be a reporter, I now have no doubt that my future is heading in the right direction.