Any aspiring or veteran journalist will agree that the news business is highly competitive, so if one is determined to have a successful career he must have a unique point of view and a superior work ethic that will set him apart from the pack. Shedd Johnson, news director at WVAS offered a dose of real-world advice on Thursday to aspiring journalists in Alabama State University’s communications department.
With over 30 years of experience as a working journalist, Johnson tried to ease any anxiety the students might have about transitioning from academic life into their professional careers. “It all begins with writing,” said Johnson. “If you can write, you can get a job. A good command of the English language will take you a long way.”
Johnson’s advice reaffirmed what ASU communications professor Coke Ellington, who extended the invitation for Johnson to speak, has been teaching to his beginning news writing students over the course of the summer semester. The ABC’s of good writing: accuracy, brevity, and clarity, all of which are necessary components of professional journalism.
It may sound like common advice to anyone who has a high school diploma and has matriculated into collegiate life, “but being able to write a simple declarative sentence is half the battle,” according to Johnson.
“You’d be surprised the number of resumes I get with grammatical errors and misspelled words,” he said.
Johnson also stressed to the students the importance of securing an internship while pursuing their degree. “An internship is very important. There is no better way to find out what is expected of you or if this business is really for you.”
ASU students can gain valuable experience right on campus as an intern at WVAS. Scottie Hunter, a senior television broadcasting major at ASU is learning the ins and outs of day-to-day journalism and showing a potential employer signs of great promise in the process.
In addition to encouraging students to hone their craft, Johnson also reminded them of the type of human being they should strive to be in the business. “If you want to be respected as a professional then you must remain professional. Set out to do right and keep your integrity.”