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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Wendy Brundige

Class of 2004, Bachelor's

I graduated from USC in May 2004, and now I work as a desk assistant at ABC in New York. Before that, I interned all the time (ABC, CBS, KABC, a small station in Tennessee) and worked for ATVN.


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

1. Writing - I know everyone says it, but it’s true. No matter where you are, people will judge you by your writing skills. That doesn’t just apply to scripts, either. In big places, people are also looking at your e-mails and notes, and if those are poorly written, you might not get the chance to write scripts at all.
2. News judgement - Even as a desk assistant, I’m often the first person people contact to pitch stories to the network. If I think something’s not important and pass on it, and it’s something we would have actually covered, I’m the one who’ll take the blame. Likewise, if I’m constantly forwarding stories that we would never cover, I’ll lose the respect of my co-workers. You have to learn what’s important and what’s not to the organization you’re working for, whether it’s ATVN, a local station, or a network.
3. Multi-tasking - Working in news often means doing a lot of things at the same time, so you have to be able to do things quickly and correctly. Always know the status of your projects, because you never know when someone’s going to ask you for an update. And always make sure you do things right, no matter how big of a hurry you’re in. My favorite sign in the ATVN newsroom says “Fouling Negates Hustle.” Live by that sign.

What were your duties at ATVN? :

Assignment Desk / Writer-Shooter-Editor / Producer

How did ATVN prepare you for your career?:

Producing at ATVN gave me a solid understanding of how all the elements of both individual stories and entire broadcasts come together. Having that experience made it much easier for me to adapt to working on the assignment desk here, a job that requires me to keep track of elements for both national and foreign stories. 

Everything - the hands-on experience I got at ATVN and internships, the journalism principles I learned in class, the people who mentored me - that whole background helps me now, and I’m sure it will help me in the future.

What is your advice to aspiring journalists?:

Make sure you love news before you commit to it. In this business, the hours are long and the pay can be crappy (especially at the beginning), so if you don’t love it, then it might not be for you. That said, if you do love it, never give up on doing what you really want to do. The road to the top may be long, but the payoff is worth it.

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

Use your contacts! While you’re interning, make it a point to connect with the people around you, because those people can really help when you’re looking for your first job. Trust me, it’s much easier to get an interview when you have an introduction from a friend of the person you want to see.

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