Title: Multi-Media Journalist
Employer: KPNX 12 News - Phoenix
How Long: 5 years
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Baylor University in Waco, Texas
I am proud to be from the Navajo Nation and I grew up in Glendale, Arizona.
Digital is the future of news. I believe the way we consume news will be completely different in 10 years – the days of sitting down at the TV to watch the nightly news are long gone.
What got you interested in digital content or content storytelling as we call it?
After realizing a career in dentistry meant a lot of science and math classes in college, I decided to try something different that came easily to me: Writing, reading and asking a ton of questions.I decided to take a mass communications course that briefly focused on journalism and broadcast news and after that section of the course, I decided to change my major. Coincidentally, around that same time I had a chance to speak with Arizona’s first Native American broadcast news reporter, Mary Kim Titla, who is San Carlos Apache. My family always supported Mary Kim and we watched 12 News when I was growing up – so to be able to meet her and speak to her about journalism completely changed my outlook on whether or not a career in news was attainable for someone like me. I also watched Andy Harvey, Navajo, another 12 News reporter when I would be home from college during the summers. I credit the two of them for opening up my eyes to broadcast news and showing me that I could do it, too. I am now proud to follow in their reporting footsteps at 12 News!
What does a typical day look like - or give the reader an idea what you do when out in the field.
My day usually begins around 9:30 a.m. when we have our morning pitch meeting. We discuss all of the local and national news headlines, trending topics and craft our news programs with content we believe will be the most meaningful to our viewers. After I get my assignment, I begin sending emails and making phone calls to set up my interviews. Once that is set, I grab my camera gear and head out. I shoot, write and edit all of my stories on a daily deadline and front them live for our early evening shows. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun!
Why has digital content become so important in the information marketplace?
Digital is the future of news. I believe the way we consume news will be completely different in 10 years – the days of sitting down at the TV to watch the nightly news are long gone. Information has become so accessible thanks to smart phones and the Internet, so we in broadcast have the adapt and adjust to the habits of our viewers.
What advice would you give any young aspiring multi-media journalist?
Do not be hesitant to get in there and hustle and never be afraid to ask for what you want. Newsrooms are not a 9 to 5 gig and you’ll find yourself managing multiple responsibilities that go beyond what is written in your job duties. That’s just how it goes. But the good news is, if you learn how to do a lot of things really well, you’ll be that much more valuable and marketable in a very competitive industry. In a sea of people who have the same goals and aspirations, you’ve got to not only prove you can handle the job, but also confidently and respectfully ask for promotions and pay raises. No one can toot your horn better than you can!
Why is it important to ensure that the people who define and create content reflect the audience/readers - essentially why we need more diverse digital storytellers?
If I had never watched Mary Kim or Andy on 12 News, I would have never ever considered a career in broadcast to be achievable for someone like me. It’s that simple. Seeing two faces from my community representing Indigenous people in such a positive and professional way was so huge for me. It pushed me to think bigger and showed me that I could achieve the same level of success if I was willing to work hard for it. It’s not easy being the lone voice pushing for stories out of Indian Country, but I know I’m here for a reason and those stories matter just as much as everything else.
I think it’s long overdue that Native people have a seat at the table when it comes to accurately and fairly covering our stories – so who better to do than someone from that community?