Young journalists at the University of Memphis attended a panel last night about how they can maneuver through the media industry using their personal brand through today’s technology, as they apply for their first jobs.
Close to 100 students and staff came out to listen to Mark Russell, Executive Editor for The Commercial Appeal, as he gave firsthand advice on today’s version of print journalism and how students can utilize the resources they have in order to elevate their creativity and to propel their talents by turning it in to skill and experience.
Russell, who has been with The Commercial Appeal since 2013, focused on several main points such as the importance of students to connect with professionals, letting the jobs know what your passions are in order to pursue that on top of your job, and to not limit where you can work and grow.
“This business is challenging,” Russell said. “But (this business is) rewarding for those that stay persistent, continue to work hard and keep doing what they should be doing. I still think traditional writing, whether it’s print or online, is still more attainable and accessible to get into than any form of broadcasting, which is very limited.”
He also talked about how even though print is on the decline while online news is the new way to report, it can be used as a way to build a personal brand by sending your articles instantaneously to publications or putting your articles on Twitter for anyone to read.
Regarding the discussion part of the panel, Russell said he was happy with the questions he received, as the questions felt more like a deep dive into the business of journalism rather than surface-level questions he usually gets from other panels around the country.
He gave his personal card to several students, encouraging them to get in touch with him and to seek ways to get involved in their University through The Daily Helmsman and Tiger News. He strongly advocated for internships and was even generous to get a student photographer in touch with him mid-panel for the chance to take pictures at the Grizzlies game this weekend.
Tom Hrach, professor and faculty advisor of the UofM student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, attended the panel and thought it went great, agreeing with Russell that with the changes going on now, there are more opportunities for young people integrating themselves in the professional field.
“The best piece of advice I thought he said was to be a pest,” Hrach said. “I kind of find that when doors close for students, they don’t really go around it. Persistent pays off in the long term, so be aggressive.”
Hrach believes that the business of journalism has changed rather than the profession itself. He says the skills are all still the same, and the need is still there. He disagreed with Russell by saying he believes there is still a great need for news and information but does agree that it is harder to make money, and standing out is important now more than ever with the influence of social media.