Young Journalist Inspires Classroom

October 25, 2009

2008_humbertomartinezI find it difficult to be a journalism student today as my professors are constantly reminding me of the struggling job market in the field. This can become frustrating and it is always encouraging to hear the success story of a peer. 

The students of my Web Publishing class at SUNY Albany were given the opportunity to speak with Humberto Martinez; a 23-year-old who has already earned the knowledge of a journalist who has been in ‘the biz’ for years. Martinez spoke about his recent accomplishments in the field and shared what he feels are the skill sets and tools that an aspiring  journalist must be familiar with in order to succeed in journalism.  

Martinez owes his own successes to hard work and acceptance into the Hearst Fellowships Program. He graduated in May of 2008 with a degree in Journalism and Photo Communications from Texas Tech University located in Lubbock, TX…nice. What’s even nicer is that  in the Fall of his senior year, he applied and was accepted into the competitive two-year Hearst Fellowships Program. His acceptance  put him right to work as a top feature writer for the Beaumont Enterprise in Beaumont, TX. Currently, he is working as a visiting reporter for the Times Union newspaper in Albany, NY. Sounds like a lot of responsibility and traveling for a young journalist huh? “The traveling can get rough but its fun, you learn as you go”, Martinez says.

Martinez made sure to spend time speaking about the recent tools that are being used in news reporting. He was enthusiastic about the use of social networking sites such as Twitter and emphasized on having the ability to use sound clips and video . Martinez explained the ways that Twitter can be used to help a reporter. He finds that Twitter is one of the easiest ways to network and collect sources for news stories. He often attends Twitter meet-up groups labeled “Tweetups” where he can meet and further connect with the people he follows in his surrounding area. Martinez recalls saying “I’m never going to use that!” when he first heard about Twitter in 2007 but he admits that since he began using the networking site in August of 2008, he has multiplied his number of available sources. He explains that the best thing that Twitter can do for a journalist is to get outside their group of friends and meet people from all different areas.

Martinez admits that Twitter can sometimes be a bit much. “You have to really dig and find what you want and what you need”, he says. He shared some of the ways to make it easier to navigate on Twitter such as using the popular “hash-tag” in which you can search a word or phrase that appears in all Tweets that have been posted. Through reading the varying opinions of different people on one topic, the reporter can receive views from all angles. He feels that this can be especially helpful when trying to find information on a story topic. 

Following his Twitter talk, Martinez explained that current news editors love a reporter who can put together sound clips and video streams. “In today’s journalism, that is where everything is going—know a little bit of everything,” he says.As far as using video, Martinez admitted to having no prior knowledge of creating video streams before the Hearst Fellowships program put him through an intensive training program.  “I never thought I would be doing video”, Martinez says. Now he finds himself often creating video projects in order to attract audiences with the use of moving images and sound.

I valued the information and tips that Martinez shared but what I appreciated most was his optimistic outlook on the current job market within journalism. Martinez ended his conversation with the class by speaking positively about the current lack of jobs in the field. He feels that people are becoming much more hopeful about job opportunities in today’s newsroom. Instead of discouraging us with job market statistics and depressing facts about the decline of the newspaper, Martinez reminded the class of why we were sitting there; for the love journalism.

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