Here is the final segment on our journalism graduate who became an “on-air radio personality.” This posting discusses her use of various equipment and software when writing, and her thoughts on her undergraduate courses and how we might improve the curriculum for someone like her.
For technical assistance, the subject uses a digital voice recorder when attending council meetings and Dreamweaver for web editing. She also uses Photo Shop but expressed a desire to obtain In Design and then just import material from that program into the station’s web site. She had learned Photo Shop and In Design in a class at the university but not Dreamweaver, which was used in a course on Web Design she never took. “I still use Word every day.” The subject bemoaned the state of the station’s web site, adding that the station was hiring a company to revamp it and then “teach me everything on it.” She admitted to feeling over her head in trying to improve the site, and “a little embarrassed because I don’t want people to think that this is my baby.”
Her reliance on her news writing course, and her experience on the Rocket, is still evident when she writes her news items for the station. In fact, even when trying to write commercials, she feared that it came out sounding “newsy.” When asked if she had taken any courses that involved advertising writing, she replied: “No. I just did all journalism. I didn’t do any PR, no advertising or anything. I was just straight journalism.” Even when learning to write for the web in the New Media course, the writing was news oriented. Perhaps her most vivid memory of her courses was receiving a zero on a piece in her Feature Journalism course for making a “fact error. … I was like, are you serious? The whole entire other paper was probably at least B worthy, but I got a zero on it because I spelled one word wrong, like that’s insane. But it made me open my eyes at least, like whoa!” The subject had attended a community college for two years and wrote for her high school paper before that. “I found one of them stuffed away the other day, and I was like, oh my gosh, this is garbage. It was terrible. Everybody who wrote in it was terrible. And then when I came here I thought I was really good; I thought I was a really good writer. And I wasn’t, and I still don’t think I am. But I’ve improved so much since then …” Another influence she cited was the AP style guide, which she still uses regularly at work.
Given the turn her career has taken, the subject expressed regret that Slippery Rock did not offer broadcast courses that would have helped improve voice intonation and delivery. On the other hand, the ability to critically assess web-sites she picked up in the New Media course has been helpful to her currently. Via Google she researches bands on-line, goes to music web sites and on-line magazines for reviews, citing such publications as Spin, Slate, and the New Yorker. While regretting how different her current work is from her undergraduate preparation, the subject recognizes she is still using some journalistic skills when attending council meetings or creating a news story which, unfortunately, is a lead paragraph without anything else, nothing but the top of the “inverted pyramid.” “I don’t plan on staying in radio. I would rather go back to print and writing and be on web sites; that’s what I want to do.”