brooksmetzler

I'm terrible at this sort of thing

Interviewing a Journalism Professor

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For one of my optional assignments, I chose to interview a professor within my discipline at Georgia Southern. After some quick research, I came across Dr. Camille Broadway and set up an appointment. Here is a summarization of my talk with Dr. Broadway.

Our light introductory conversation led to me recording information before I even began with my interview questions. Our conversation began with me explaining the objectives of our English 1102 course and how our research papers and assignments are structured. That of course sparked some conversation that answered parts of several of my interview questions right off the bat. Dr. Broadway first explained that there are two types of courses that upper level journalism majors must take: field skills-related courses and critical thinking-related courses. She explained that field skills courses are meant to prepare students for writing and reporting news. Within these courses, heavy emphasis is placed on researching in order to prepare news articles. She mentioned that people are the main sources in these works, but other important sources are existing stories, documents, and public records. Dr. Broadway also gave some examples of critical thinking courses. She said these are mainly courses concerning effects of mass media, communication theory, communication research, and communication law. The research, she explained, mostly concerns how communication effects large audiences, and thus is mainly found in scholarly peer-reviewed journals.

After our lengthy introductory talk, I decided to head back to my actual interview questions and proceeded to ask Dr. Broadway some questions regarding her own experience in the discipline.

Question 1: What got you interested in pursuing and eventually teaching journalism?

Dr. Broadway started becoming interested in journalism in college. She says she started out as an English major, but after getting a job as a movie reviewer for her college paper, decided it wasn’t for her. Her mother is also a journalism professor and teaches at University of Tennessee Chattanooga. After realizing she did not want to be an entertainment writer, Dr. Broadway got into news writing and eventually worked her way to the top of her college newspaper, working in almost every position within it along the way.

Question 2: How long have you been teaching journalism? What other institutions have you taught at?

Dr. Broadway began teaching journalism courses in 2000, while she was still a graduate student at the University of Florida. She then taught at the University of Texas at Arlington for six years before coming to Georgia Southern University, where she has now spent two years.

Question 3: Have you had other experience within the field? If so, where have you previously worked?

In addition to her experience with the college newspaper, Dr. Broadway also had six years experience working at the Chattanooga Times. She says she left her position at the paper, because it was changing to a different format that she did not like, so she took a buyout and decided to go to graduate school.

Question 4: What are some pieces of advice you would give to students who are interested in pursuing a journalism major?

Out of many possible pieces of advice, Dr. Broadway explained a few which she believes are most important. First, she advises students to never miss an opportunity to practice their writing skills, adding that even though it may not be something you want to write about, that you should still take that opportunity to improve yourself as a writer. She then said that the best writers are the ones who are never truly satisfied with their writing, because there is always more to learn and improve on. Her second big piece of advice is to gain experience by joining student publications, as these will help journalism students get their crucial internships. Her third and final piece of advice for students is to figure out what they want to write about, then choose a minor that makes sense from that. For example, I asked her what I should choose for my minor. Considering my desire to be in an automotive writing position, Dr. Broadway suggested I possibly choose a technology of engineering minor, as it would give me a better understanding of exactly what I’ll be writing about.

Main Questions

Question 5: What are some important skills that every journalism student must possess?

In response to this question, Dr. Broadway first says that one of the most important skills for students to possess are storytelling skills. More specifically, she says they need to have a knack for picking out details, adapting writing to their audience, and having an understanding of language. She also states that it is important to have strong research skills, specifically, knowing how to gather information and sources outside of Google. Another important aspect that she says should be a no-brainer, but that a surprising number of students neglect to do, is to read and watch what you want to do in the field. For example, she recalls a broadcast student who, when asked what news programs she watched, responded with “none.” Along with these big essentials, come “softer” skills that are necessary. Dr. Broadway emphasizes that interpersonal skills are an example of this. She says that successful journalists don’t necessarily have to be extroverts, but that they should understand how to communicate and most importantly be good listeners.

Question 6: What types of writing occur in upper-division journalism courses? Could you give some examples of major writing assignments?

In answering this question, Dr. Broadway went back to the two types of classes and explained from there. In writing and reporting classes, typical assignments include covering speeches, government meetings, and other local events. Within that type lies investigative journalism, where she says students can expect to search databases, find information related to their community, and write a report around that. In the critical thinking-type courses Dr Broadway says students are usually asked to simply find a mass communication issue and relate it to mass communication as a whole. In addition to traditional writing assignments, she also says that students can expect to produce storyboards, blogs, and keep Twitter accounts.

Question 7: Where would you advise that journalism students look first when beginning research for a writing assignment?

Once again, Dr. Broadway said we must look at the two different types of courses to answer this question. In writing and reporting skills classes, she says it is important to first look at databases that contain past news articles relating to what the student will be writing about. For the critical thinking skills courses, Dr. Broadway advises students to first look at peer-reviewed journals, mentioning EBSCO Communication and Journalism Search Complete to find them. Along with this advice, she states it is also important to look through the reference lists of these peer reviewed journals and make note of which articles are cited most and subsequently look into these articles as well.

Question 8: Is there strong focus put on reference citation within majors classes? How would you say this compares to work within the actual field?

Dr. Broadway states that there is strong focus put on intellectual property and making sure it is properly credited. On the same note, she does explain that there is a big difference between journalistic and traditional citation, but when it comes down to it, she says that both are generally about making sure the referenced individual or otherwise gets credit. She goes on to say that she would much rather have students over-attribute when it comes to including sources than under-attribute their sources. Briefly, Dr. Broadway explains that AP style, which includes those less-formal citations is the form used in the field, whereas APA style is seen most often in upper-level research projects.

Question 9: How are most assignments in your upper-level courses graded? Is it content based, or do you look for other things?

In answering this question, Dr. Broadway was sure to make it clear that both content and grammar are equally important factors in her grading of assignments. She notes that students will lose credibility with their audience immediately if there are grammar or factual errors in their work, and that this of course remains true and even more important when students get into the field. In addition to this intuition  Dr. Broadway also gave me a copy of a typical rubric for writing assignments in journalism classes, which I will go into detail about in my other A assignment.

 

All in all I found this meeting with Dr. Camille Broadway extremely informative and even enjoyable. I was able to not only get answers to the questions relating to this course, but also voice my questions regarding my own unique situation and thus gain some more insight on what exactly I should be doing to get into the career I hope to be in one day.

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