I recently applied to be a news apprentice at CBS Denver (KCNC-TV). The News Apprenticeship Program was started by CBS in 2005 and works to develop newsroom leadership skills among recent college graduates.
The application process required an essay on “Why I’ve Chosen Broadcast Journalism as a Career.” I’ve decided to post mine here as well:
To inform and empower. I’ve chosen broadcast journalism as a career because I want to inform and empower others. For me, it’s that simple. The truth is, I never felt much external influence to become a journalist. I don’t have a nostalgic childhood memory or some sort of inspirational narrative to share.
For starters, both my parents wanted me to stick to math and science; become an engineer or something. I suppose that’s where the money is after all.
I never had role models—let alone anyone that slightly resembled me—to look up to in the news media. I graduated high school before discovering bilingual journalists like Jorge Ramos.
Then there’s the star power allure of broadcast, the sense that only the most beautiful people are on television. I have no interest in fame, and besides, I’m short and awkward in front of the camera, and I’d have a face more suitable for radio if I weren’t so insecure about the way my voice sounds recorded. (I was admittedly delighted to see that the apprenticeship focuses on work “behind the camera” and newsroom management.) Perhaps it’s easier to see why I may never have chosen this career path at all.
Despite all that, I chose a career in broadcast journalism because I have a passion for compelling stories. I obsess over the stories that make us laugh or cry; that give us courage or scare us to death; or, most of all, those stories that inspire and stir us to take action.
Take the Yo Soy 132 social movement in Mexico as a recent example. After months of protesting the Mexican media’s allegedly biased coverage of the 2012 presidential elections, the movement successfully demanded a student-led debate, streamed live on YouTube, that allowed participants to ask questions of the candidates via Google Moderator. A virtually unprecedented example of ordinary people sidelining major TV networks and taking control of their own media.
The right information can steer a nation towards progress, but the best stories teach us how to adapt and grow. If one person can single-handedly change the world, than surely one story can do the same.
But stories are only as good as the media they use and a poor delivery can let even some of the best go unnoticed. For most of today’s complex stories, words alone won’t do. In this sense, broadcast is one of the most advanced and powerfully efficient forms of storytelling to date. It uses more than just words. It uses first-hand experience, photos and video, social media, analytical data—you name it. It combines all the elements of communication into one seamless presentation and creates something more than just another story.
I crave that kind of communicative skill. I want to learn and master the art of broadcast reporting. Strong writing, although inarguably necessary, is just the foundation of a reporter’s potential. The ability to add multimedia to a story is what distinguishes one reporter from the next and I’m ready to take my storytelling to the next level.
I’ve chosen broadcast journalism as a career because I legitimately feel like I have something to contribute. For as much as this apprenticeship would help me develop new skills and grow professionally, I know I have just as much to reciprocate. I bring a fresh perspective to the newsroom and I’m ambitious about its future potential. I want to improve the way news is gathered, disseminated, and shared. Broadcast journalist Edward Murrow said that television could illuminate and inspire, but only to the extent that we are determined to use it to those ends. That’s why I’ve chosen a career in broadcast: because I’m determined to use media to illuminate and inspire. I’m determined to continue the progress of broadcast news, to make it more than just “wires and lights in a box.”
Ultimately, I’ve chosen a career in broadcast for the same reason I decided to study journalism: because it’s one of those fleeting career fields where you can make a living and still do a little good in the world. It’s nowhere near perfect, and if I’m to be completely honest, I originally had an aversion to the sensationalism of broadcast news. The 24-hour news cycle and constant bombardment of “breaking news” alerts arguably led to a drop in viewership and trust in many broadcast networks. Still, even in the age of the internet, it remains the principle means of sharing information and I’m not the type to just walk away from a challenge. Flawed or not, so long as broadcast journalism remains an integral part of our media’s foundation, that’s where I will direct my efforts.