Posts Tagged Journalism

6 Tips for the Aspiring Journalist

Photo of Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman

View from the Front Row: Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, Awesome Con. Credit: Pat Cuadros

I moved to Washington, DC, for a great career opportunity recently. Relocating inevitably meant joining other social groups, where I faced the usual inquiry: “What’s your line of work?”

I have a regular office job Monday to Friday. Outside of that time, I’m a freelance writer. I write film and television reviews, and interview actors, and recap festival events. Within the past couple of years, I’ve covered famous actors and directors like Kiefer Sutherland, Robert Carlyle, and Wil Wheaton. This month, I attended Awesome Con in DC, where one of the headliners was Peter Capaldi from the BBC hit series Doctor Who.

Instead of resting on vacation, I’m all out with my voice recorder for interviews, my Nikon camera for photo ops, and a notebook to write ideas. Sometimes my older brother (COMM ’97) joins me on these adventures.

The most common reaction that I receive is, “How do you get into that?” That’s a good question. I’ve gotten the sense that people feel uncertain about branching out into new hobbies or skills. Here’s a list of quick tips if you are an aspiring journalist, which apply no matter what fits your topic of interest. Read the rest of this entry »



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Tom Brokaw Discusses his Memoir, ‘A Lucky Life Interrupted,’ at the National Book Festival

Tom Brokaw

Photo by Pat Cuadros

Labor Day weekend kicked off with a strong start at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC. Now in its 15th year, the festival featured a discussion with Tom Brokaw. The veteran journalist, a longtime host of the NBC Nightly News, was also there to sign copies of his latest book, A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope. He spoke at length in a packed convention hall about his difficulties from multiple myeloma or blood cancer, a condition he was diagnosed with back in 2013.

The “excruciating” ordeal left him flat on his back at the worst periods, phases that he endured with the loving support and patience of his wife, Meredith. It was also a time filled with some humor in the form of his grandchildren, in trying to get them to understand to keep the “decibels” or noise down on their visits. “They call me ‘Tom’ because they’ve seen me on television,” Brokaw remarked fondly, eliciting a wave of laughter from the audience.

At the age of seventy-five, Brokaw is optimistic about his treatment regiment. He credits his upbringing as being instrumental in his will to persevere through these trials. His parents and others were part of a generational cohort with the mindset that you “took what came to you and dealt with it.” He’s already made similar observations about that group in his 1997 bestseller The Greatest Generation.

When asked why he left NBC Nightly News, Brokaw admitted that the job came with “a short leash,” emphasizing it’s probable at times that he was “home no more than two days in a row in 1989.” He says that he took his reporting seriously, bringing to light any mistakes he uncovered at the soonest broadcast possible. He’s immensely proud that he “got it mostly right” in his tenure.

However, he felt ready to move onto a new chapter of his life in the spheres of family, outdoor hobbies, and career. He dedicated his time to writing books, pursuing documentary projects, and advocating tirelessly for both veterans and individuals in active service. One can expect Brokaw to push forward in the same vein of work and to continue promoting his new memoir in the weeks ahead, as he looks forward to a busy fall season.

This post was originally published on as “Book News: Tom Brokaw Discusses Memoir at the National Book Festival.”

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‘Hoos in Media’ Make Their Mark in Charlottesville

Left to right: Professor Hector Amaya, Jenna Dagenhart, and Blake Sirach - Photo: Pat Cuadros

Left to right: Professor Hector Amaya, Jenna Dagenhart, and Blake Sirach discuss the growing impact of media in Charlottesville and at large under the helm of UVa alumni. Photo: Pat Cuadros

Reunions Weekend was in full swing recently as hundreds of alumni descended upon UVa Grounds to reconnect with classmates. It was also a wonderful opportunity to learn about changes that have occurred in the city of Charlottesville, home to Mr. Jefferson’s University. How do local Wahoos continue to serve the community as well as national and international clients at large?

Professor Hector Amaya, chair of the Department of Media Studies at UVa, endeavored to address that very question at the “Hoos in Media” seminar on Saturday morning. He brought on Jenna Dagenhart of NBC29 and Blake Sirach of WillowTree Apps to explore their expertise in media. Dagenhart debunked the “misconception that broadcasting is dead,” pointing to gains through technology, social media, and continuing collaboration across stations. Technology has also been instrumental in the building of cutting edge mobile apps, utilizing information from Sirach’s research and meetings as VP of User Experience at WillowTree.

Broadcasting Considerations

Media vehicles are fairly recognizable with their large and obtrusive satellite dishes on top, but you may be surprised to find that there’s an alternative. As Dagenhart shared, there’s a TVU, a backpack sized device that’s so practical for broadcasting from locations that are difficult to access or assignments on short notice. “National journalism is still healthy,” she insisted. “The biggest challenges are in print.” Reporters can communicate not only with other stations but within as newer web teams focus on getting stories out across multiple platforms: TV, social media, and the website.

Dagenhart’s experiences are also illuminating given her activity in recent stories that broke nationally, such as the now-discredited Rolling Stone article. She recounted her steps to interview people on this highly charged topic in the days that followed, all the while staying mindful of challenges in verbal economy, accuracy on short notice, and concerns about neutrality. “You have to think about what your job is,” Dagenhart reiterated. “Get people’s perspectives out there and let that tell the story.”

Homegrown Apps for a Dynamic (and International) Client Base

Sirach has been with WillowTree Apps since its humble beginnings in Downtown Charlottesville several years ago. Since then, the award-winning company has expanded its staff from four to ninety and operates a satellite office in New York. Sirach listed off some large clients (UVa, Johnson & Johnson, AOL), but more importantly, he was equally excited about the WillowTree staff makeup. “We try to hire a lot of UVa students,” Blake told the audience in the full classroom, as he highlighted efforts to recruit from other schools in the Commonwealth.

Do companies enjoy utilizing the services of WillowTree as opposed to a firm from the app producing centers in Austin, San Francisco, New York, and other cities? Unsurprisingly as Blake points out, “They like working with Charlottesville,” attributing the longer retention of staff as an element that attracts companies. There’s some additional travel required because this industry thrives on face-to-face meetings; but it’s a reality that Blake readily accepts as a trade-off for living in one of the top cities in the country.

A number of alumni left this area following graduation through the years, but Dagenhart and Sirach have shown through their contributions that one doesn’t have to venture far from Charlottesville to execute amazing projects with a widespread reach.

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