Instead of a traditional paired mentor-mentee program this year, we are featuring monthly Q&A’s with mentors about how they broke into journalism, what their day is like, and any advice they have for young journalists. From there, students or anyone else (“mentees”) can email the mentors with any questions or set up informational interviews.
Q: What is your current position/outlet?
Q: Did you always want to work in journalism? How did you break into TV news?
I went to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism with the intention of writing for magazines. I knew I wanted to be a journalist since high school but I accidentally “caught” the TV bug after doing an internship at KGO, the ABC station in San Francisco, while in college. I loved the medium… the power of moving pictures/audio, the immediacy, and the energy of the TV news environment.
When I graduated from college, I didn’t have a job. I temped as a receptionist at an architecture firm in San Francisco while I sent tape after tape after tape to news directors across the country. I also road-tripped across California knocking on the doors of TV stations and begging news directors to look at my tape and consider me for upcoming positions.
Finally, a news director in Pocatello, Idaho gave me a call. I took the job without ever having even seen Pocatello! I didn’t really have a choice. I needed a job. I’m glad I took this one. It was a great opportunity.
Q: Describe a typical day on the job.
I don’t really have one. Some days I anchor the morning shows, which means on the weekdays, I get up at 2:30am. On the weekends, I get up at 4am. Some days I’m live in the studio for a special report at 11pm. Then I’m at the station around 2:30pm and home after midnight.
If I’m working a “regular” day, I’m usually doing a combination of the following: researching, discussing stories and elements with our producers and photographers, setting up interviews, logging tape, writing and tracking stories, taping stand-ups, or shooting interviews or b-roll.
Q: What is your best advice for young journalists? What’s your response to warnings like “Journalism is dead!” or “You’ll never make a living this way!”?
Journalism is far from dead, but it is changing, and we have to figure out how to evolve with the times but also KEEP OUR CORE JOURNALISTIC VALUES.
My best advice today is what my advice would have been 20 years ago: BE PERSISTENT. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not going to make it in this business. I had several people tell me that, and I’m glad I didn’t listen to them but instead just worked harder to prove them wrong. A professor in college told me that I should go back to print because I clearly didn’t “get” TV news. A news director in Bakersfield, California told me no one would hire me because I have a “terrible” voice. The list goes on and on.
I will say that this business is hard and you should only get into it for the right reasons: because you’re passionate about telling stories and exposing the truth and all sides of an issue. If you get into it because you think it’s glamorous or easy or a big paycheck, you’ll likely be sorely disappointed.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about being a broadcast journalist?
Ah there are so, so many things I love about my job. I love the craft of interviewing and writing and anchoring. I love meeting new people and learning new things every day. I love helping our community with my consumer/Troubleshooters franchise. I love feeling like I make a difference by exposing bad apples and warning about scams and con artists. I love helping set the agenda by reporting about a community that I deeply care about and call home.
Q: What do you enjoy outside of journalism? How do you spend your free time?
When I’m not working, I’m spending time with my family. I have a husband, a 3-year-old daughter, and a 1-year-old son. We do all kinds of things: take bike rides, check out cool sites in the city, swim, etc. I don’t care so much what we’re doing as long as we’re together.
Thanks for sharing your inspirational story, Nydia! Watch some of her favorite clips:
Any questions or comments about the mentorship program itself? Would you like to be featured as a Mentor of the Month too? Contact Meeri Kim, AAJA-Philly’s Mentorship Director, via firstname.lastname@example.org.