by Malika Andrews |
The media industry has always relied heavily on personal interaction, whether it’s the television news anchor with the sparkly white smile or the local paperboy dropping off the morning edition on the doorstep every morning.
But media conferences can often be impersonal and formal, with many people trying to listen to a single speaker in a classroom-type setting. In that environment, it can be difficult to build the connections that an anchor has with his or her audience or even that a Facebook user might have with his or her friend when they share articles.
This year was my second year in a row attending the College Media Association (CMA) conference in New York and it was my third media conference with The Beacon. My goal this year was to make the most of the conference experience while also seeking out the personal side that drives the industry. My week in New York showed me that one-on-one interaction is more crucial than ever to aspiring media personalities.
On my second day in New York, I walked into the Wall Street Journal building to meet Miriam, a 33-year-old financial reporter who I met through a friend with whom I covered Portland Trail Blazers. Miriam toured me around the building and introduced my to the WSJ’s Pulitzer prize-winning sports editor. Although he had never seen my work or met me before, he told me he was impressed that I had made the effort to come visit and he gave me his card. We’ve been emailing back and forth since, proving that going the extra mile (or 6,000 miles round-trip) to get face time can really make a difference.
I‘m learning that making the extra effort is what sets you apart in the media industry. I set meetings with five different journalists in my seven days in the city and spent time in three different newsrooms and television stations, which helped expose me to even more aspects of the industry. Spending time at Sports Illustrated made me realize that working for them — something that I have dreamed about since I was a kid — is within my reach.
The CMA conference sessions were informative and one of the speakers, Byron Pitts of ABC News, offered moving words about the opportunities that each of us in attendance have. He told us that he believed “with every fiber of my being, that each of you has the ability to change the wold.” That really made me think about the network I have built and the doors it has opened for me. More than that, if and when I make it, I am obligated to give back and give someone else a door into industry. Looking back, though, I think that the most valuable part of the experience in New York was walking around the city, shaking hands with working media professionals, and seeing how and where the news gets made. As I made a conscious effort not to look up at the skyscrapers (a dead giveaway you’re a tourist) and walk quickly, in pace with the city, I couldn’t help but feel an intense sense of belonging. The information I took from the conference was helpful, but the personal connections I made were truly inspiring.