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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Elex Michaelson

Class of 2008, Bachelor's

Elex Michaelson is a general assignment reporter for ABC7 Eyewitness News who grew up in Agoura Hills and always dreamed of reporting the news in his hometown.

Elex is a proud USC Trojan who graduated first in his class from the Annenberg School for Journalism. He earned Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors while picking up dual degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. At USC, Michaelson hosted numerous campus broadcasts, and interned at several local stations and at NBC News in Washington.

Elex worked as a weekend morning anchor and weeknight reporter at XETV's San Diego 6 News.

The self-described "political junkie" reported live from the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama, the President's election headquarters and the Republican National Convention. He's also traveled to cover the Boston Marathon bombings, the Napa earthquake, Hurricane Irene, the Aurora Theater massacre and the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Elex the winner of 5 Emmy Awards and 12 nominations.

He is especially proud of his community work: He co-founded Get Hands On, a breast cancer awareness campaign profiled by multiple national news outlets. He actively partners with the Boys and Girls Club, the ALS Association, and the Revlon Run/Walk for Women..

When he's not working, Elex enjoys going to the beach, working out, watching great films, cheering on his Trojans and, most of all, eating well and laughing with friends and family.


What are the top three skills journalism students should learn in college?:

1. Listening- look above for more

2. Telling stories like a human being- practice explaining the story you are talking about to your non-journalism friends. Then, realize how different that is from your script. Don’t fall into the trap that you sound like a news robot, nobody wants to hear that.

3. Read and Watch Everything-Aspiring film makers study the greats, as do musicians and painters. Why should journalists be any different?

There are reasons people like Brian Williams, Scott Pelley, Charlie Gibson, Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, and others get to where they are at. Study them--but don’t copy them. Figure out how their skill sets can make you better, not how you can impersonate Tom Brokaw (trust me, I’ve tried. The voice is harder than you think). 

What were your duties at ATVN? :

Anchor, Reporter, W/S/E, Floor Director, Sports Reporter

How did ATVN prepare you for your career?:

First off, all the technology (iNews, Avid) is the same at my current job and at ATVN.

More than that, it prepared me for the daily deadline pressure and how to think in terms of video. Being able to “one man band” in a few hours at ATVN when no one wants to call you back makes it seem like a piece of cake when you have a photographer, editor, and willing interview subjects to work with!

What is your advice to aspiring journalists?:

BE AGGRESSIVE- There are more journalists out there than jobs available and if you don’t ask questions and stand out, someone else will. Our job is to find information, if you are timid and uncomfortable seeking out sources and coming up with new ideas, maybe this isn’t the right profession for you. Most people are nice and willing to help, all you have to do is ASK! Even if they are not so nice, you have to find a way to charm them anyways.

INTERN-ATVN can prepare for the technical execution of a news broadcast, but there is nothing like being around a real, professional working newsroom and the contacts that go with it. Still, it is easy to get lost in the bureaucracy of the newsroom.

You need to realize it is not the working reporter’s job to provide an educational experience for you. It is your job to make their work easier for them!

Instead of simply asking “what can I do to help” (which means they have to work to think of something for you to do), take it upon yourself to suggest things to do. Or, just do them!

If you work your butt off, don’t ever be uncomfortable asking to shoot a stand-up every time you go into the field. They may feel weird at first, but the more you do them, the better you will get.

Having a great deal of professionally shot stand-ups at the end of your college career will make your tape stand out from the competition. Ultimately, the most important thing in getting hired is how strong your resume tape is.

LISTEN-USC and your internship is filled with some of the smartest people you will ever meet. When you go out on your stories, you will meet some of the most extraordinary people on the planet.

It is natural to tense up, feel intimidated, stare at your list of questions, and try not to mess up when around them. Resist that urge. LISTEN to what they tell you. Chances are, it is more profound than what is on your paper. They will give you better sound bites if they feel you are engaged in a genuine conversation with them, and you will become a smarter and more well rounded human being. Isn’t that why we go into this profession to begin with?

What should graduates keep in mind when negotiating their first job?:

Contrary to what people might tell you, you are a human being that deserves the ability to eat at least a cracker or two. 


March 26, 2008

Cal State students and teachers are angry about proposed education cuts.


February 25, 2008

Spotlight on USC's International Students

January 16, 2008

Coliseum or Rose Bowl?

November 29, 2007

A call to action for USC students as Trojan football considers moving to the Rose Bowl


November 13, 2007

Even though life-long Trojan Lou Galen has passed away, his legacy lives on at USC.

Malibu residents talk about life after the fires

November 9, 2007

Malibu residents talk about life after the fires

November 9, 2007

USC students sign up for wartime service

October 26, 2007

ATVN's Elex Michaelson talks with USC students about why they would sign up for wartime service


October 25, 2007

The latest on the arson investigation in the Santiago wildfire


October 24, 2007

Interviews with Malibu residents after they were allowed back into their homes

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