You never know what’s next

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I had an interesting conversation with a teenager the other day. She’s still in the first half of her high school career, but she is already interested in exploring a career as a writer.

After watching how newspapers have severely cut their reporting and editing staffs over the past decade or so, it was tempting to tell her to consider another career path.

But I chose instead to encourage her to develop her writing skills. We talked a bit about how reporters get ideas for stories, how they arrange interviews, how they read other publications and research online to learn more about their subjects before the interviewing begins.

In our conversation, I emphasized the importance of having a vigilant and balanced news media, one that citizens can trust to provide the facts and to address all sides of an issue. I talked about how our society seems to be coming apart these days because more and more people seem to be getting their “news” from outlets that filter it through their own biases, whether that be from the left or from the right.

Another point I made is that, regardless of whether daily newspapers (the medium in which I’ve done most of my work) as we now know them survive, the news media will exist in some form. ,

And, as it turned out, my work this week happened to provide some examples  of how media professionals these days have to become comfortable working in a variety of different formats. My story in Delaware Today magazine on the conservation efforts of the Mt. Cuba Center led to an appearance on WHYY-TV to discuss the story. (You’ll find the segment around the 18-minute mark.) My other example is a piece I wrote for the Delaware Public Media website on the evolution of Wilmington’s Riverfront. With that article, you will see a link to my conversation about the story with Tom Byrne, moderator of The Green, a weekly news show on WDDE-FM, Delaware’s public radio station.   ,

When I was younger, I thought of myself as a newspaper person. And now I find myself doing things I had never envisioned when my journalism career began — writing for magazines and for websites, and being interviewed on both television and radio.

So, if you’re thinking of a career in the media, or you know someone who is, don’t think of it as an impossible dream.

Remember some of the things I mentioned to the teenager this week: Develop your writing skills. Practice all forms of communication. Maintain an intense curiosity.

The way media professionals work may be changing but they will always be significant contributors to a free and well-informed society.

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