CNN Digital News Reporter Doug Criss gets real with students


KENNESAW, Ga. – CNN Digital News Reporter Doug Criss inspires communication students in the world of reporting.

In speaking to the Society of Professional Journalists and Professor Stella Payne’s Digital Media Production class, Criss discussed what it is like working for CNN and offers tips for getting started in the journalism and emerging media industry.

Working in a rapidly changing industry requires an employee that can embrace change and be flexible with job assignments. Criss shares with students that networking and taking internships are something he wishes he did more of to stand out and give him a competitive edge. Being able to write, edit, shoot video, manage a website, or use social media will make you a valuable asset.

“The employees that sit around and talk about, ‘we’ve always done it this way,’ those are the people that are going to get laid off and left behind,” Criss said.

Doug Criss 18

How has the industry changed?

Technology allows us to get news faster as well as gather news more quickly. Journalists are scattered all over the globe.

“You used to have to pick up the phone and dictate the story for the person on the other end to write and edit,” Criss said. The downfall to all this technology is that internet advertising doesn’t bring in as much revenue. The loss of funds and subscribers makes newsrooms very tight on personnel.

News happens 24/7, and Criss shares that his workday starts around 3 a.m. As a news journalist, you should “be prepared to work crazy hours,” Criss said.

Tips for networking

“One of the great things you can do is join journalism organizations like SPJ,” Criss said.

Attending networking events is a great way to meet others in your industry to learn from and make a connection. Criss also suggests starting volunteering to help write and gain experience. Offer to write the church’s newsletter or a local story. You want people to remember you but also that you’re a writer.

Doug Criss speaks to students

Tips for interviewing for a job

“Treat it like a date,” Criss said. “Not only are they checking you out, but you’re checking them out.”

Do your research to learn about the company you are applying. You want to make sure that this is the right place for you as well and that you like the culture. The first thing an employer is going to do is Google you and look at your social networking profiles. Make sure there aren’t questionable posts that could turn an employer off about you.

Building your portfolio.

Build a variety of content. A lot of people have a personal blog, web pages, or Twitter feeds that they fill with their student reels and published work. These platforms are a way for you to advertise yourself, beyond just the school community. Self-produce material that shows your interest in all forms of media.

When it comes to tips on becoming a better writer one of the best things to do is read.

“Read as much as possible,” Criss said. “It’s like osmosis; you start to read all types of different styles.” As a writer, you get a feeling about how things flow.

Criss offered a more in-depth look into the busy lifestyle of a digital reporter for CNN and what students can start to do now to further their career.

For more information about a career at CNN check out or follow @CNNCareers on Twitter. CNN provides internships for juniors, seniors, and recent graduates.

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