Recap of Q&A with Derek Wing

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In a changing media landscape, Derek Wing showed us that newsroom representation and diversity is more important than ever, especially in broadcast.

Wing shared experiences from his time as a young journalist reporting in Baghdad, to hosting his own show, and making the transition into Public Relations when he decided to start a family. He made one thing clear: there is an adrenaline rush like no other finding, writing, and reporting a story in less than two hours. It’s something for which you will not regret putting in the hard work. Still, Wing found the work less fun as he got older and wanted to settle down, but his effective communication skills from his journalism career translated well into the PR work he does now.

The following are some main takeaways from our officers who attended the event:

“If nothing else, Derek opened my eyes to having a little bit more respect for broadcast journalism. I’ve always been one to really hate that type of news, what with those in charge of it/owning it, the short amount of time to tell a story, the stories that shouldn’t really be stories, representation issues, etc.

I really liked that he pointed out how journalism allows us a front row seat at historic events. It’s very true but at the same time pretty scary. Usually historic events aren’t about easy things or happiness. It’s usually something stemming from rights violations, leadership disasters, or natural disasters. Rarely is it a moment where the U.S. would be taking a big step forward — and for that step to even happen, there has to be struggle first.

Derek also reminded us of the harsh reality of just doing journalism: It’s best if you don’t have ties, and you have to be willing to sacrifice a lot.

“Work hard, try everything, be willing to make sacrifices,” Wing said. “Be willing to make no money, suck up everything you can. There’s no such thing as a wasted opportunity, even if it’s ‘I never want to do that again,’ or ‘work for this type of boss.'”

When he said “the news kinda owns your life,” and discussed about all of the on-call stuff, I went, “dang.” Because it’s true. And I have started experiencing that already, but I guess being in college, I haven’t yet had to deal with stuff to that extent. It’s a little daunting sometimes. But also exciting.

I didn’t really like the idea of blurring PR and journalism, which Wing said is happening. But he’s right, it is a little inevitable given our size and situation of newsrooms right now. That being said, I still don’t think it should happen. This manifests now in the frequently direct-quoted press releases, sometimes even excessively quoted, for a story when reporters shouldn’t rely on those so heavily.

But I’m also a very ethics- and rights-driven type of journalist. There are many approaches to journalism, and it’s important that we have those varying degrees (like 95 percent of the time).”

– Kelsey Hamlin (President)

Not much needs to be said about the event after Kelsey’s personal re-cap. I think many journalists who aren’t going into broadcast feel this way about journalism as a profession. That being said, those who at the event, like myself, benefited from another perspective. Even though our journalism path stays the same, we can always benefit from other views.

“Derek Wing was an awesome guest. I enjoyed his candor and how passionate he seemed about the work he did in the past, as well as how his career evolved to his current position. It was interesting to hear about the complexities of TV news; the necessary skill set involves being a fast writer, crafting stories under deadline, the ability to work under pressure, and, as Wing expressed, there is some sales person-ship involved in getting people to talk on camera. Wing parlayed his experience as a journalist into his current job. Regardless of what career journalists end up with, the education we’re receiving will give us a marketable skill set.”
– Nathalie Graham (Treasurer)

Personally, I loved that Derek pointed out that we need more diversity in newsrooms and in story representation more now than ever.

Even though I’ve heard it before dozens of times, what Derek said about diversity still matters because everyone comes with a different background and a unique way of telling stories which is invaluable in our time of fast-paced journalism. He reminded us that it’s important to get diversity in our stories, too; to get out of the circle we are comfortable in.

“America is becoming a more diverse place and we can’t help but benefit from that,” he said.

Derek said that communication is becoming a lost art, but on the upside this means skills you gain with a career in journalism transfer easily into other fields later on if you so choose.

Personally, I plan on being a journalist for the long-run, but this advice still feels comfortable to me. Journalists are more stereotypically rough-and-tough fighters who are in deep-dive reporting for the long haul. Still, it’s refreshing to have another option.

Derek stressed the importance of doing what is right for yourself, whether that’s broadcast, writing, photography, audio, or even PR. To be clear, he’s not advocating for an easy way out, but to do what we love and follow our passion no matter how hard it is.

And journalism can be incredibly exciting, too.

“You never knew what was going to happen from one day to the next,” he said about his time in broadcast reporting.

That surprise alone is enough to inspire me for my future as a journalist. Who wants to know their future anyway?

For anyone interested, you may contact Derek Wing at Derek.Wing@pemco.com.

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