I have had the honor of working with Jennifer Castor at the Aurora Municipal Center with Aurora Channel 8 which continues to be a great way for those wanting to go into journalism to gain some valuable skills and even individuals currently in the journalism field to come in and improve on their skills as a journalist or photojournalist. You will get to learn and work with many individuals who have worked in the industry for years and who have also won many awards during the span of their career. Anyone interested in broadcast journalism really would benefit from interning or volunteering with Aurora Channel 8 and getting a chance to learn more about the industry. She is a wonderful mentor and friend that I am still learning from today.
CL: What experiences got you interested in Broadcast Journalism?
JC: In college (Fordham University, NYC) I majored in Communications and was exposed to some of the best media outlets in the country. Some of my classes were with the journalists working at WABC, CBS Radio and World News Tonight. One of my professors also required us to read the NY Times each day. I was hooked. News and specifically broadcast journalism became my passion. Also, I was able to intern at 3 different TV stations and fell in love with telling stories through video and sound.
CL: What advice would you give to others wanting to get into television?
JC: Read, watch and listen to as many different newscasts, publications, etc. as possible. I’d also recommend that students immerse themselves in learning the ever-changing technical side of editing and photography.
Take classes that help you to learn more about local government, religion, social issues…. and continue to read about them. As solo-video journalists, we need to be able to take (often) complicated topics and condense them into compelling, accurate and semi-short video stories. Knowing how to decipher the real story is critical. I am so grateful for the world religion and political classes I had to take in school. They help!
CL: What skills are necessary to be a great journalist or a photojournalist?
JC: An exceptional photojournalist is very detail oriented. They listen for natural sound that can enhance they story. They “see” things in the story setting that take the viewer closer to the topic. They are patient and wait for the right moment to get the best sound bite to really “tell” the story. They are also open-minded. Sometimes the story turns out to be something completely different than you originally thought…. good journalist adjust with the story and tell it well.
Commitment is also important. Careers in journalism are not typical in any way. Hours can be long and staying committed sets good work apart from the rest.
CL: What if any, are the most difficult aspects of being in broadcasting?
JC: To me, the news-broadcasting image has changed and so has public opinion. Often, the stories that are covered are negative and even stressful. The public is often hostile toward the media and learning to handle that is (sadly) a new “must”.
There is also a large sense of responsibility. Honest reporting is our job and making sure every fact is accurate (no matter how tired or busy or stressed you are) is so important.
Odd hours and schedules do impact family life. Learn to balance as best you can.
CL: Can people in the news industry move into different positions at a television station?
JC: Absolutely! Hard work is often rewarded in promotions into roles with new responsibilities. I know people who have started as overnight video editors…. to become national award-winning investigative reporters. A passion and commitment will make that happen.
I started as a video editor and am now a solo-producer who has reported on-air in Denver.
CL: What did you enjoy most about being in television?
JC: I love meeting people in our community, gaining their trust and sharing their compelling story via video. A well-told visual story can motivate people to become educated about a certain topic, can positively impact their lives or can promote positive change…. and much more. Video stories can get to the core of the human spirit and I thrive when being part of this industry.
Photojournalists go places most do not…they see things most do not…. they meet people most do not…. and for me, that has enhanced my sense of community and human nature.
CL: How many different types of awards have you achieved during your time in television?
JC: Let me first say that I’ve never set out to do a story simply in hopes of winning an award. But, hard work can sometimes lead to recognition.
I’ve been honored to have received the following awards:
Peabody Award (national award for excellence in broadcast reporting) National Scripps Howard Award for Excellence
7 Heartland Emmy Awards (20 nominations)
Colorado Broadcaster Association Awards (10+)
National Association of Telecommunication Officers & Advisors Awards (National) National Press Photographers Association Awards (15+)