Atlanta Journalist Encourage Students to Follow Their Passions

By AUSTIN McMILLAN

KENNESAW, Ga.– Ellen Eldridge said she first realized her love for journalism when she was an intern at the Marietta Daily Journal.

Eldridge, now a breaking news reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was the only reporter in the newsroom when news broke about Justin Ross Harris leaving his toddler in a hot car. Eldridge said she was the first reporter from the Marietta Daily Journal on the scene that day, earning the scoop even as an intern.

Eldridge was one of four journalists at “Get the Scoop”, an event hosted by the Kennesaw State University Society of Professional Journalists and the  Atlanta Press Club Tuesday.

Miguel Santiesteban, president of the Kennesaw State University SPJ chapter, led the panel of journalists through a series of questions that gave insight into why they became journalists and what kept them in the industry.

 

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Students at Kennesaw State University participating in a Q&A about the journalism industry with a panel of Atlanta journalists on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photo by Austin McMillan)

 

In addition to Eldridge, a KSU alumna, the panel included CNN correspondent Nick Valencia, WABE reporter Lisa Hagen and freelance entertainment reporter Jewel Wicker.

The panelists encouraged student journalists who are undecided about a full-time career in journalism to first start writing for their school newspaper. Wicker said it is a good way to find out what you’re passionate about while also getting some experience.

Valencia gave some advice to students who are already passionate about journalism.

“The dream doesn’t always look like what you thought it would,” he said.

Valencia said he wanted to be a sports reporter when he was young, but now he is a CNN news correspondent and also reports for CNN en Espanol and CNN International.

 

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Nick Valencia telling students about his experiences reporting internationally as a CNN News Correspondent. Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (Photo by Austin McMillan)

 

The panelists spoke of a few of their favorite parts about being journalists. Hagen said she likes the ability to talk to many different people who have experienced a lot of things. Eldridge said she likes putting a human face on her stories.

The panelists also spoke of the struggles of being a journalist. Valencia said his first job as a reporter paid just over $22,000. He said the job can also be dangerous. He said while on an assignment in Alabama he was even body checked by a man.

“I never thought being an American journalist would be so controversial, or dangerous,” he said.

Valencia said that in today’s political environment the society needs more aggressive coverage.

“I think it’s all the more important for us to be fair,” he said.

For Kennesaw State University students trying to test out the industry check out the student media page or go to KSUNewsNow.com.

The Kennesaw State University Society for Professional Journalists host monthly panels and events. For more information visit their Facebook page.

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