Dick Brennan gave lots of great advice when speaking to my journalism class last Tuesday but one thing he said really left an impression. A fellow classmate of mine asked Brennan what he wished someone had told him at his age when he was trying to break into the business.
“You can do this,” he responded.
The veteran New York reporter’s advice was simple but powerful. My classmates and I spend countless hours reading chapters in textbooks about journalism, writing articles, and applying for internships that sometimes, it takes a guy like Dick Brennan to remind us why we work so hard.
The task of breaking into the field of broadcast journalism is a daunting one. Hearing Brennan speak eased some of my fears and shed light on great tips for the future.
Brennan currently works at WCBS-TV News and has interviewed everyone from Denzel Washington to Michael Moore. He shared many of his tips, embarrassing stories, and favorite moments of his career with students and opened up for all kinds of questions.
Brennan’s golden rule for writing is, “tell me a story and make care.”
To illustrate his point he talked about finding a story on victims of Hurricane Sandy this week. He had done some interviews earlier in the night that he considered “okay” but “didn’t tell the story.” Finally, he stumbled upon a family that still had no heat and two young children. The interviews produced golden news material that would generate audience interest while also sharing an important message.
Brennan’s many first hand experiences helped me understand how important it is to connect your story with your audience and tell the story from their perspective.
“You want great journalism? Knock on doors,” Brennan said.
Last Tuesday I left my journalism class with a lot more than tips on writing an effective news story, I left with renewed inspiration.
“You’re just as good as anyone else,” Brennan said to my class of aspiring journalists that would kill to be in his shoes.
But Dick Brennan didn’t just tell me that, he made me believe that. He made me realize that my dreams of interviewing the President really aren’t that far out of reach and that yes, I can do this.