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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Randy Ferrell

Class of 2003, Master's

I’m currently heading up a team that almost exclusively produces 2-hour investigative documentaries, including shows on Chandra Levy’s death, the dangers of the Internet, and spring break horrors stories.


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

1. Writing - Good writers find a way to stay in television.

2. On-air presentation - If you’re on-air talent, constantly improve your presentation because it can always be better.

3. Work Ethic - Journalism is not a 9-to-5 job. If you treat it that way, you will soon be working a 9-to-5 job outside of journalism.

What were your duties at ATVN? :

Tons and tons of editing, writing/writing tutor, promotions/specials, shooting/shooting tutor, general oversight (teaching assistant)

How did ATVN prepare you for your career?:

Being a team player is absolutely essential in a professional situation regardless of how individualistic the job title. Working at ATVN and keeping my hands involved in almost everything helped me develop a selfless, team-minded orientation toward journalism, which is the way journalists much approach their jobs because, in all honesty, there is a lot of shared labor and information in the world of journalism.

What is your advice to aspiring journalists?:

1. Constantly improve your writing skills. You can be the prettiest or most handsome person on the planet but nobody wants to baby-sit someone who cannot write for TV. The person who cannot write well probably won’t go very far career-wise.

2. Personality/individuality. Once you’re working and in a certain position at a certain job or company, you’ll find that most people with your same job have the same skills set. This doesn’t mean they’re smarter, more talented or more ready to move upward or onward to better things. In every job, it’s important to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack, and being personable and having a unique identity helps people remember why you are BETTER than everyone else you work with.

3. Moxie. Have it. Cherish it. You must be able to overcome work-related stresses and struggles. In journalism, it’s what separates journalists from non-journalists and great journalist from regular ones.

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

Realize your own skills and play them up, but also realize that almost everyone who comes out of college and enters the field of journalism starts at the bottom. That’s life. But the cream has a way of finding the top. Don’t be afraid to try a location where you wouldn’t think you’d be comfortable but also know where not to go. Few jobs, especially entry-level low-paying jobs, are worth making your life utterly miserable.

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