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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Ryan Wilson

Class of 2005, Bachelor's

I was born in Heidelberg, Germany. I grew up in Tacoma, Washington.  I've lived in DC, Honolulu, LA, Yosemite and Great Falls, MT.  It's been a trip.


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

1.  Organization.  Evergreens are a great opportunity for reporters to learn this.  You have to set up interviews beforehand, especially.  You have to have a plan for how to approach your day.  You have to know who you need to call and you have to be able to manage your time.  I think those are all part of organization. 

2.  Writing.  Of course you have to know how to write and most importantly, how to write creatively.  Write in and out of your soundbites, write to your video, write with emotion (when appropriate).  Anyone can write a package, but not everyone can write a good package.  I fell into a trap for a while where I was just trying to get the job done as fast as I could so I didn't have to worry too much about the deadline.  But I wasn't writing like I meant it.  My cameraman said, "The clock is your enemy.  Just focus on the story."  That was the best advice I got so far.  My stories have improved dramatically since.  

3.  Shooting and editing.  Shaky video sucks.  Don't ever use it.  EVER.  It's annoying and unprofessional.  And it's not that hard to avoid.  Just set the camera on a tripod, press record, and don't touch the camera for at least 10 seconds.  AT LEAST.  It's my biggest pet peeve.  

And don't leave flash edits in your video either.  Take pride in your video, because that's why people are watching.  It's the most important part of the whole "TV Journalism thing" you are getting into. 

(OH!!! Important!!!!  Use NAT SOUND as much as you can!!!  That's what makes the story come to life, as it flows underneath your track, and occassionally pops up for the viewer to hear.  Watch 60 Minutes to see examples.)

If you take all three of those things and combine them, you'll be set.  Because good organization will lead to a good story idea which will have good video and good nat sound and then you'll take your writing and match it up with the video and sound and you'll have a great story.

What were your duties at ATVN? :

Writer/Shooter/Editor:  Had to shoot footage for VO's and V/S/V's.  Learned how to ask people to do interviews and how to speak up at a press conference.  Also, realized how boring video can be, unless you get the camera in people's faces.  

Reporter:  Had to do day-of-airs and learn how to deal with stress.  Had to be able to set up interviews, look for interesting angles.  Learned how to shed my shyness further.  (It's still there, but I have gotten over it for the most part.)

Producer:  Learned how to manage time.  Couldn't believe how much time I wish I could have had every day I produced.  Learned how to tell people what to do.  Tried to teach W/S/E's how to write clearly.

How did ATVN prepare you for your career?:

What I did as a reporter and a producer at ATVN directly translated to what I do every day.  I have to set up interviews, think of story ideas, manage my time, deal with stress every day.  It's just a little bit more organized because usually at your first job, you are surrounded by people who have done it for a bit longer than you.  And of course, you learn how to deal with criticism because when you are young, you generally suck.  (I find that out every day!)  But at the same time, if you put out a solid effort every day and are really working to improve everyone respects that.  But you have to start somewhere.  And that's generally the bottom.  Just know that you are better than the bottom.

What is your advice to aspiring journalists?:

You have got to work hard and make the most of every chance you get.  During my last semester at ATVN, I realized that every day-of-air I needed to make my best because it could be one of the last chances I get to do a good stand-up or a good story for my resume tape.  

I think the most important thing in the world, though, in choosing a job, whether it's in journalism or not, is to pick a place where the people are good.  I chose my station because my news director was a teacher in the past.  I knew he would want to help me. He told me we had a cameraman who had been here for more than 10 years and people who loved this place.  I won't ever go to a place where I dislike the people I work with.  It's not worth it, because you're already stressed out enough without having to deal with people you dislike.

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