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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Justin Unell

Class of 2003, Bachelor's

I have landed my dream job. I'm going to be working for The Golf Channel in Orlando, FL. I'll help produce several of their instruction shows. They include "The Golf Fix with Michael Breed," "School of Golf" and "On the Range."
I've enjoyed my last seven and a half years working at 41 Action News, the NBC affiliate in Kansas City, Mo. I've done everything from producing a primetime weeknight sports talk show, producing sports specials and sportscasts, field producing, producing newscasts, setting up stories as the planning editor, launching and producing a 4:30 p.m. newscast, reporting, shooting and filling in as the sports anchor. I've always tried to work as hard as possible to put the best product on the air, and now I look forward to doing the same for a worldwide cable network.

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

 The top three skills journalism students should learn in college are writing, pitching story ideas and time management.

What were your duties at ATVN? :

I wore a lot of hats at ATVN which prepared well me for my TV career.  I shot footage, edited, produced the sportscasts, reported on news and sports and anchored the sportscast for two years.

How did ATVN prepare you for your career?:

Working at ATVN allowed me to get great hands-on experience that prepared me well for my first job.  I felt like I was ahead of a lot of other people thanks to ATVN.  The shooting I did at ATVN helped the most.  As a one man band reporter for my first job, I had to shoot everything and shooting all of those games at ATVN paid off.  The packages I put together at ATVN helped big time.  I knew the importance of NAT sound, and that gave me an edge over a lot of other people.  The producing I did at ATVN was huge, too.  I never thought I’d be a sports producer.  It just goes to show learn how to do everything at ATVN, including producing, because you never know what you might end up doing.
Advice:  You have to be dedicated to the job you’re doing.  It’s also important to be yourself.  It seems like a lot of people who start out anchoring talk like they’re reading.  You’ve got to be conversational.  And always use NAT sound and creative standups in your packages.  It will help make you stand out.  Also, visit the station you’re going to.  You can’t be too picky with the first station you work at because you’ve got to start somewhere.  But you should visit the next place and check it out before you go.

What is your advice to aspiring journalists?:

My advice to aspiring journalists are land at least one internship at a TV station. You also must have a strong work ethic and love what you do!   It's important to persevere and learn how to tell great stories.  You must be flexible, be open to new ways of doing things and be well versed in a variety of areas.  You should know how to write for TV and the web.  Also, it's important to know the power of social media.

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

When negotiating your first job, have a lawyer look at the contract.  Make sure you have a buyout and visit the station first to determine if it's a good fit.

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