Brittany Jones-Cooper is a freelance writer, journalist, host and lifestyle reporter based in New York City with more than 15 years of experience working in television, digital media and podcasting. A native of Omaha, she is a 2008 Broadcasting graduate of the UNL College of Journalism & Mass Communications. After graduation from UNL, she spent a few months as a local reporter at KETV in Omaha before taking on the role as Katie Couric's personal production assistant at The CBS Evening News. From there, she joined Couric at her daytime talk show as an associate producer. As a lifestyle reporter for Yahoo, she was a host for the "Build Series" featuring long-form interviews with actors, musicians, athletes and authors, and later hosted a show called "Unmuted" which provided a platform for underrepresented voices. Her newest podcast will debut later this year. She spoke with Campus Voices as part of a series on the future of the media and communications industries.
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[00:00:01.650]Welcome to "Campus Voices," I'm Rick Alloway,
[00:00:04.020]and as always, I thank you for your time.
[00:00:06.390]Our guest today on "Campus Voices" is Brittany Jones Cooper,
[00:00:09.810]who was a 2008 graduate
[00:00:12.180]from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications
[00:00:14.640]where she majored in broadcasting, and has had quite a life,
[00:00:18.270]interviewing all kinds of folks in a career
[00:00:21.000]that has spanned a variety
[00:00:22.170]of different publications and networks.
[00:00:24.780]Most recently doing some stuff for Yahoo where she,
[00:00:27.300]among other things, was a reporter,
[00:00:29.310]hosting a show called "Unmuted,"
[00:00:31.890]which provided a platform for underrepresented voices.
[00:00:34.920]She was also a host at the "BUILD" series,
[00:00:37.080]a media platform featuring long-form interviews
[00:00:40.170]with actors, and musicians, and athletes, and authors,
[00:00:43.770]and is now a freelancer doing work for all kinds of folks.
[00:00:47.370]Again, sort of on a one-on-one basis.
[00:00:49.830]And she joins us from her home base.
[00:00:51.540]Still in New York, correct?
Still in New York.
[00:00:54.470]Hello Rick, hello everybody. I'm happy to be here.
[00:00:56.970]Nice to have you with us,
[00:00:58.140]and Brittany was from Omaha originally,
[00:01:00.990]and I just was talking with students this week
[00:01:03.840]in our new student enrollment program
[00:01:05.670]for the university's summer enrollment area,
[00:01:08.040]and had some folks express an interest
[00:01:09.990]in wanting to work in media in New York, and I thought,
[00:01:12.487]"I know somebody who's doing that."
[00:01:14.070]So there's a next generation of folks waiting here
[00:01:17.130]in the wings to be the new you.
[00:01:19.140]So we want to talk about futures today,
[00:01:21.870]and how the industry looks for the folks
[00:01:24.810]who are just coming into our program now,
[00:01:26.640]but also how it's affecting you,
[00:01:28.230]and where you see things going.
[00:01:30.390]Start with Omaha native.
[00:01:33.240]What was it that attracted you to a degree
[00:01:36.630]in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications,
[00:01:39.060]and brought you to Lincoln from Omaha?
[00:01:42.030]Yeah, you know, it's a story that is pretty common.
[00:01:45.990]You know, I grew up in Omaha,
[00:01:47.190]I went to Papillion-La Vista High School actually.
[00:01:50.448]And so I had visited the university and had, you know,
[00:01:52.530]seen the J School and felt really comfortable with it.
[00:01:55.110]And truth be told,
[00:01:55.943]I was actually gonna go to Mizzou my senior year,
[00:01:59.340]and I had picked a roommate,
[00:02:01.050]and had a scholarship, and everything,
[00:02:02.940]but then I got offered a different scholarship to UNL,
[00:02:05.580]and it sort of just put a new lens
[00:02:07.290]on what the J school could provide for my future,
[00:02:10.920]and it just all together seemed like a better choice for me,
[00:02:13.950]and I do not regret it at all.
[00:02:15.420]I think there's so many opportunities that opened up for me
[00:02:19.050]that came from attending UNL.
[00:02:20.820]So it's the best decision I made for my career,
[00:02:24.420]and I love that it was just, you know, 45 minutes from home,
[00:02:26.580]so I could also do my laundry,
[00:02:28.740]and visit my mom on weekends if I wanted to.
[00:02:31.265]Yeah, got a home-cooked meal once in a while up the road.
[00:02:33.954]Absolutely, and see the family and stuff,
[00:02:35.250]especially since I moved to New York
[00:02:36.780]right after I graduated,
[00:02:38.070]so I'm actually thankful that I had those four years
[00:02:40.020]to still be close to home.
[00:02:42.210]Looking back on the time at UNL
[00:02:44.070]these 15 years after graduation,
[00:02:46.530]are there still some remembrances, memories,
[00:02:51.060]students or other faculty that you remember vividly?
[00:02:55.830]I mean, I grew up watching Trina Creighton
[00:02:59.760]on the Channel 6 news, and she is a Black woman,
[00:03:03.180]and I didn't see a lot of Black women on TV at that time,
[00:03:06.150]and so she was an early inspiration,
[00:03:08.160]and then when I got to UNL,
[00:03:09.720]she was starting her second act as a professor.
[00:03:13.440]So that for me was a true honor,
[00:03:16.770]because not only did I get to ask her questions,
[00:03:19.950]and just learn from her,
[00:03:21.630]but she was the first person to really encourage me,
[00:03:24.060]and to really tell me, "You've got it, you've got the goods,
[00:03:27.030]like this is what we need to work on, but I believe in you."
[00:03:30.750]And I think at that phase of my career
[00:03:33.030]I needed that affirmation.
[00:03:35.130]And so when I think back about my experience there,
[00:03:37.650]Trina is always super foundational.
[00:03:40.590]I also loved just the access we had to the cameras,
[00:03:43.440]and the editing equipment, and the computers,
[00:03:45.480]and I was that kid who I spent
[00:03:47.220]a lot of extra time in Anderson Hall.
[00:03:49.230]Like I spent a lot of late nights and a lot of weekends
[00:03:51.360]working on projects,
[00:03:52.350]and it was an early passion of mine
[00:03:55.620]that is still a passion of mine.
[00:03:56.670]I still spend hours editing podcasts, and things like that.
[00:03:59.700]So it was just a really formative time,
[00:04:02.970]and I was super excited,
[00:04:04.530]and that energy is something that grew at UNL for sure.
[00:04:10.830]So those were the things that pop out the most.
[00:04:12.453]Now, you have been working in New York, but that didn't,
[00:04:15.750]the experience with New York and with the network
[00:04:17.760]started long before you graduated,
[00:04:19.290]even before your junior year,
[00:04:20.610]you had a pretty cool internship opportunity.
[00:04:22.470]Tell us about that.
[00:04:24.210]which came through Anderson Hall actually.
[00:04:27.750]Every week the University would send out an email
[00:04:31.110]with internship opportunities.
And one of them, yeah,
[00:04:34.147]still do, see kids,
[00:04:35.580]make sure you click that email and open it,
[00:04:37.740]because there's some goodness in there.
[00:04:40.350]So there was this national competition
[00:04:42.000]to be Katie Couric's intern at the CBS Evening News,
[00:04:45.120]and this was 2007,
[00:04:46.770]and I thought this was a shot in the dark,
[00:04:48.930]but I had to submit a 90-second news package,
[00:04:51.660]which we had just learned to make a news package,
[00:04:54.330]so I knew how to make one.
[00:04:56.250]And you had to submit it, and I did it,
[00:04:58.140]and Katie Couric picked my video.
[00:05:00.390]So I got to spend the summer before my senior year
[00:05:03.660]in New York City, at the CBS Evening News
[00:05:06.060]as Katie Couric's intern.
[00:05:08.430]She also let me go over and spend some time
[00:05:10.380]at 48 hours and 60 minutes,
[00:05:12.570]I got to shadow national correspondents.
[00:05:16.680]Yeah, just sort of a game changing experience,
[00:05:20.711]and really that summer solidified so many things for me.
[00:05:23.850]So then I came back my senior year at Lincoln
[00:05:26.430]just fired up, just ready to go.
[00:05:29.760]And knowing that New York was a real possibility, you know,
[00:05:32.580]because before it just sort of seemed like a dream.
[00:05:35.760]But after I got to work in a network newsroom,
[00:05:38.010]and be around people that caliber, I understood like,
[00:05:41.317]"Okay, this is the path to do that.
[00:05:43.680]So game changing.
[00:05:45.630]There are students here who say,
[00:05:46.957]"Well, but I'm from Omaha,
[00:05:49.200]I'm from Lincoln, I'm from Kearney, I'm from Hastings,
[00:05:54.870]And New York is just such a whole different vibe.
There's no way a kid like me
[00:06:00.060]can make it there.
[00:06:01.518]What did you learn about yourself, and your training,
[00:06:04.680]and your preparation to be successful
[00:06:07.830]once you got to New York as an intern?
[00:06:10.740]Yeah, I mean first is you really have to love it.
[00:06:13.110]You really have to be passionate about storytelling.
[00:06:16.500]Deeply empathetic in interviewing people,
[00:06:20.430]and getting to know their stories,
[00:06:21.810]because the work is long, and the pay is low.
[00:06:25.590]And from the beginning, even until now,
[00:06:27.390]there are fluctuations.
[00:06:28.590]And so you really have to love it,
[00:06:29.877]and so I learned that early on
[00:06:31.260]that I really didn't mind working a lot.
[00:06:33.450]Like I enjoyed it and that was a huge piece.
[00:06:36.300]You have to enjoy it.
[00:06:37.133]But also in those early days moving to New York City,
[00:06:40.110]the transition was incredibly difficult.
[00:06:43.230]I mean, the first six months were
[00:06:45.210]unlike anything that I had expected.
[00:06:47.610]And I actually put myself into therapy
[00:06:49.980]after six months in New York
[00:06:51.360]just to help deal with that transition.
[00:06:53.340]And I just tell young people that it is a big deal
[00:06:56.190]when you move from Nebraska to New York City.
[00:06:58.560]I mean, you could not pick, you know,
[00:07:00.870]two more different places.
[00:07:02.310]And so all of it is you can be dedicated to the work,
[00:07:05.130]and putting yourself in the work,
[00:07:06.270]and that's super important,
[00:07:08.040]but the earlier you learn to also take care of yourself,
[00:07:11.610]and to make time for yourself,
[00:07:12.960]and to learn some of those healthy tools to deal with stress
[00:07:16.290]are also really crucial in this industry.
[00:07:18.570]So that's the thing I tell people,
[00:07:20.580]I'm like, dive in, do the work, love it,
[00:07:22.980]but make sure you're making some time for yourself,
[00:07:25.620]because it is an industry
[00:07:27.540]that will wear you down really quickly.
[00:07:30.390]Especially when you moved to New York City.
[00:07:31.680]and you start moving with some of these big dogs.
[00:07:35.130]Well, you continued to move with a lot of the big dogs.
[00:07:37.920]You came back to your senior year,
[00:07:39.240]and became the first ever Nike Field reporter.
[00:07:42.840]How did that come about?
[00:07:44.730]You know, Rick,
[00:07:45.563]I was really big into video competitions
[00:07:49.110]in these early days.
[00:07:52.530]Because I was from Nebraska,
[00:07:53.910]and it almost felt like I needed a lottery ticket
[00:07:55.980]to get out in some way.
[00:07:57.213]Like I didn't know what the path looked like,
[00:07:59.640]so I started entering these competitions.
[00:08:01.140]So that was another national competition
[00:08:03.990]that I found online
[00:08:05.580]and I had to submit a video of me,
[00:08:07.500]like how I would interview famous athletes,
[00:08:09.630]and I made it kind of funny and quirky, and they picked it.
[00:08:12.900]So yeah, I, I spent most of my senior year at Lincoln,
[00:08:18.780]not at Lincoln, not in Lincoln.
[00:08:21.060]I was traveling around the country to Nike events.
[00:08:25.500]I got to go to NBA All-Star Weekend,
[00:08:27.720]and I interviewed LeBron James, and Serena Williams,
[00:08:30.810]and it was just this amazing experience
[00:08:33.210]while I was trying to get my final credits to graduate,
[00:08:38.970]it was not advisable,
[00:08:40.380]I had a perfect GPA up until that year.
[00:08:43.680]But that same token,
[00:08:45.210]everybody at the university was super proud,
[00:08:47.790]and very excited.
[00:08:49.050]So definitely it was a team effort
[00:08:51.540]to kind of get me graduated, because I was working already.
[00:08:56.070]Well, then you got to meet another one
[00:08:57.150]of your childhood idols there in Jackie Joyner-Kersee
[00:08:59.640]That must have been really exciting for you.
[00:09:01.530]Yes. You did your research, Rick.
[00:09:03.090]That's my girl (laughs).
[00:09:06.150]Yeah. I grew up running track, a big track family.
[00:09:08.730]Actually some of my nieces and nephews
[00:09:10.050]are running track now.
[00:09:11.940]So it's a family sport that we love,
[00:09:14.340]and she was such a motivator for me.
[00:09:17.040]I remember watching her in the 1996 Olympics.
[00:09:19.650]And so when I got to actually sit down,
[00:09:22.350]and interview her with Nike,
[00:09:24.000]it was one of the first interviews
[00:09:25.020]where I kind of lost my cool,
[00:09:27.720]just for like 30 seconds so I could gush,
[00:09:31.170]you know, and just tell her how much I loved her.
[00:09:33.540]These days, I'm a lot more cool around celebrities,
[00:09:35.730]but back then I definitely just let her know
[00:09:38.070]how much she impacted my life,
[00:09:40.260]and just that ambition and that drive
[00:09:42.420]to kind of chase down goals.
[00:09:44.760]So yeah, I mean between the Katy Couric internship,
[00:09:47.550]and then the Nike job
[00:09:50.490]the last two years of college were a ride,
[00:09:52.710]but super fun, and like I said,
[00:09:54.210]everything I was doing was being so supported
[00:09:56.070]by the J School.
[00:09:57.810]So it was like I was learning,
[00:09:58.980]but also then putting what I was learning
[00:10:00.420]into practice almost immediately, so.
[00:10:03.150]And then back to work for Katy Couric
[00:10:04.680]for a while after college,
[00:10:05.790]so everything kind of came full circle,
[00:10:07.890]and you were sort of in New York City permanently
[00:10:10.230]after that, right?
[00:10:11.460]Yeah, it's like ping pong, you know,
[00:10:14.400]I was a local reporter in Omaha actually
[00:10:16.680]for four months, but it was a recession,
[00:10:19.770]it was 2009, and it was sort of a hard time
[00:10:21.870]to get any sort of local reporting job.
[00:10:25.063]So I actually moved back to New York City
[00:10:26.730]to mentor kids in the summer, in this year long program.
[00:10:29.820]I was just like, "Let me sort of take the heat off myself."
[00:10:33.360]But, and this is why I always encourage young people
[00:10:37.350]to just continue to feed your passions
[00:10:39.570]is because I started a blog during that time
[00:10:42.360]just to sort of chronicle my transition,
[00:10:44.670]and I put my voice in it, a lot of personality,
[00:10:46.800]and Katie's assistant would read it,
[00:10:49.050]because she had met me during our internship.
[00:10:51.300]So she would read my blog,
[00:10:52.920]and she saw that I was back in New York City,
[00:10:55.320]and then there became an opening in their office
[00:10:57.210]for a second assistant.
[00:10:58.680]So I had moved to New York City,
[00:11:00.930]and I was here for a month
[00:11:03.289]before Katie Couric's office reached out to me, and said,
[00:11:05.317]"Hey, we have this opportunity, would you like it?"
[00:11:07.890]And I said, "Heck yes."
[00:11:10.410]So then I spent the next two years
[00:11:12.180]as Katie's assistant/production assistant.
[00:11:17.040]And I always say that that was my grad school, you know,
[00:11:20.190]a lot of people will go to like Columbia Grad School
[00:11:23.190]to get their journalism degrees,
[00:11:24.780]and I did two years at the CBS Evening News
[00:11:27.210]with Katie Couric and learned pretty much
[00:11:29.790]anything you could wanna learn.
[00:11:31.530]So game changing experience,
[00:11:33.810]and she's still a friend and mentor to me today.
[00:11:36.720]Was gonna ask that, okay.
[00:11:37.553]'Cause I read her newsletter every day in my email,
[00:11:40.170]wondered if you were still in contact with her, so.
[00:11:43.290]Yeah, absolutely, I mean I worked at her talk show
[00:11:45.900]for two years as a producer,
[00:11:47.520]and she also made me an on-camera,
[00:11:49.050]digital contributor as well.
[00:11:52.371]And then I worked at Yahoo at the same time as her,
[00:11:54.270]and then just in, in recent years, you know,
[00:11:56.280]like she is somebody who I can go to lunch with
[00:11:59.850]and pick their brain, you know,
[00:12:02.640]I just helped her hire a new assistant.
[00:12:05.280]So we're in in her contact, you know,
[00:12:07.230]she thanked me and her last book, because I read it early,
[00:12:11.400]and sort of gave her my thoughts on it.
[00:12:13.020]I mean, I can't, at 21 could never imagine
[00:12:16.200]that our dynamic would grow to this very friendly place,
[00:12:19.650]but I'm really thankful that it has.
[00:12:21.900]That network when you always told you about
[00:12:23.790]in college pays off, getting to know people,
[00:12:25.635]and stay in with 'em throughout, so.
[00:12:27.360]You have to, I mean, and it's an internship,
[00:12:30.240]you really have to make yourself memorable,
[00:12:33.780]and fun fact about Katie Couric,
[00:12:35.070]her mother was born in Omaha.
Oh, I didn't know that.
[00:12:39.293]and her grandfather was an architect
[00:12:40.950]who designed some homes and Happy Hollows.
[00:12:43.560]So after my internship I found those homes,
[00:12:46.830]and took pictures of them,
[00:12:48.660]and sent them to her as a thank you.
[00:12:50.130]So this is what I mean,
[00:12:51.907]she couldn't forget me if she wanted to,
[00:12:53.910]'cause I'd given her this precious family gift, you know?
[00:12:58.110]So make yourself memorable interns.
[00:13:01.890]Well you did a lot of traveling for Yahoo Travel,
[00:13:04.530]including, I noted one thing
[00:13:05.820]that just made me incredibly envious.
[00:13:07.710]You got to swim with Whale Sharks-
[00:13:11.220]They're my all-time favorite aquatic critter.
[00:13:13.800]What was that like?
Rick, you can go do it.
[00:13:16.200]I think in August their migration brings them
[00:13:19.290]to Isla Mujeres every year, you can do it.
[00:13:23.220]That's like a four-hour flight for you, Rick.
[00:13:25.230]They're such majestic creatures.
[00:13:26.940]I believe in you.
[00:13:29.122]Yeah, no, that was,
[00:13:30.720]Yahoo Travel was 18 months of traveling around the world,
[00:13:34.170]and being paid to do that.
[00:13:37.980]One of the most unbelievable jobs I've ever had,
[00:13:40.680]and certainly experiences like swimming
[00:13:42.630]with 30-feet whale sharks in Cancun
[00:13:46.350]where you're so close you can touch them,
[00:13:48.150]if you get too close, you will get hit in the face
[00:13:50.130]with a fin, which I was, but it was a bruise that I-
A bruise I wore with pride,
[00:13:55.770]because I was just brave myself for getting in the water.
[00:13:59.760]But those sort of experiences,
[00:14:01.620]and then getting to write about them,
[00:14:03.000]and getting to just share my stories was,
[00:14:07.260]it almost seemed silly that I was being paid to do that.
[00:14:10.860]Well, one thing I've noted throughout your career,
[00:14:12.690]other than maybe with the whale sharks,
[00:14:15.270]is a tendency to wanna do one-on-one interviews with people,
[00:14:18.600]and maybe the Sharks gave you a great interview too,
[00:14:20.550]I don't know, but I've watched a lot of your work,
[00:14:23.550]and seen a lot of your work, and read a lot of your work,
[00:14:26.940]and even through the most recent work that you did
[00:14:29.580]with the Yahoo, including work dealing with themes of race,
[00:14:32.220]and gender, and LGBTQ, and identity, all sorts of things.
[00:14:36.630]You seem really in your element,
[00:14:38.370]and most comfortable when you're one-on-one with somebody,
[00:14:40.920]is that an accurate assessment?
[00:14:42.720]Do you really enjoy doing the, the one-on-one interviews?
[00:14:45.240]Yeah, I appreciate you saying that.
[00:14:46.950]Yes, that's all I wanna do.
[00:14:50.130]I grew up watching Oprah,
[00:14:52.860]and I think there is so much
[00:14:55.440]that can be healed through conversation.
[00:15:00.060]And so my goal as always is to create a very safe space
[00:15:03.480]for people to come as they are.
[00:15:07.110]And I feel like in this current climate
[00:15:08.580]that feels sort of hard for people to trust you.
[00:15:12.330]And so it is my biggest honor to sit down with someone,
[00:15:15.660]and to just really create a safe space for them to open up.
[00:15:19.560]So "Unmuted" was a really amazing opportunity for us
[00:15:22.800]to do that.
[00:15:24.000]Talking mainly to Black, Brown, Indigenous,
[00:15:25.890]LGBTQ, activists, and people who have been activated
[00:15:29.430]in their communities after witnessing something that,
[00:15:32.310]you know, disturbed them.
[00:15:33.300]And so for me,
[00:15:35.070]it's the most powerful tool we have, and a goal of mine,
[00:15:38.370]a passion of mine is just to be somebody
[00:15:39.840]who can facilitate those conversations.
[00:15:41.700]So it is my favorite thing to do.
[00:15:43.470]If you give me 45 minutes with somebody,
[00:15:47.870]it's fun for me (chuckles).
[00:15:50.280]Well now we're doing this one over Zoom,
[00:15:52.772]because of our difference in distance and and location.
[00:15:55.590]But we're coming out of a three-year sort of isolation place
[00:16:00.900]where we did pretty much everything on Zoom.
[00:16:03.900]People who were stockholders in the company early on
[00:16:06.510]probably realized it made a good bet,
[00:16:08.730]but what did that change, if anything,
[00:16:11.640]about the way that you do your business,
[00:16:13.470]and the way that you connect with people?
[00:16:15.480]Is it do you feel it's better
[00:16:17.490]when you can actually be
[00:16:18.323]in the same physical space with somebody,
[00:16:20.190]and interact that way
[00:16:21.360]rather than just be talking box to talking box?
[00:16:25.260]Yeah, I mean the highlight of the past couple years for me
[00:16:28.740]has been getting back to in-person.
[00:16:32.250]So much is lost through this green dot on the screen,
[00:16:37.770]especially when you are asking people to open up to you
[00:16:41.460]about their identity or hardships.
[00:16:43.800]It's just so hard for me to, as a pretty empathic person,
[00:16:48.726]to make that space feel as safe as it can through a screen.
[00:16:53.460]So we did it, you know,
[00:16:56.160]and I think we were able to do it in a respectful way,
[00:16:58.140]but a 100% I think this role as a journalist is just,
[00:17:02.070]you have to be boots on the ground.
[00:17:04.680]I think you have to be in those spaces,
[00:17:06.420]you have to be looking in people's faces,
[00:17:09.120]that's part of the job.
[00:17:11.540]So I'm excited that we're getting back to that,
[00:17:13.290]and I've been, I also moderate events,
[00:17:16.980]conversations at events like panels,
[00:17:19.350]and so getting back to do that more and more
[00:17:21.330]has been really game changing for me,
[00:17:25.170]because I went from "BUILD" series
[00:17:26.550]where I was doing live interviews
[00:17:28.320]in front of a small studio audience.
[00:17:30.120]I mean, I really sort of had like a talk show,
[00:17:33.676]and then, you know, March 13th, 2020 that was just over.
[00:17:37.200]So it was quite a transition for me,
[00:17:39.960]and the transition back to in-person has been joyful.
[00:17:43.590]I appreciate it more than I ever thought I would for sure.
[00:17:46.620]That's sort of how we were,
[00:17:47.730]we went away for Spring Break in 2020,
[00:17:49.920]and didn't come back for 18 months.
And we had two weeks
[00:17:53.760]to convert all of our courses over to online,
[00:17:56.280]and many of us had never taught full-time online before.
[00:18:00.030]Many of our students had never attended a course full-time.
[00:18:03.030]I had one major who told me
[00:18:04.230]she had to learn 10 new software programs
[00:18:06.420]to finish out the semester
[00:18:07.560]that she was a third of the way through,
[00:18:09.660]because we all switched
[00:18:10.710]to all different types of instruction, and communication,
[00:18:14.520]and coordination logistics,
[00:18:17.875]it was a challenge for everybody-
[00:18:20.500]I can imagine, especially in a program like Anderson Hall,
[00:18:24.690]like everything is so in person,
[00:18:26.040]everything is like you can pop in your professor's office,
[00:18:28.350]and you're constantly working on projects together.
[00:18:30.960]I mean, yeah, shifting all of that to fully remote
[00:18:33.900]would just be daunting.
It was a challenge,
[00:18:36.360]but it also forced us to do some things
[00:18:38.310]we didn't know that we could do,
[00:18:39.570]and to learn some processes, and some techniques,
[00:18:41.880]that we did not know that we could do.
[00:18:43.830]Some of which we have by virtue of their value
[00:18:46.650]continued on through today.
[00:18:48.270]So in thinking about that,
[00:18:50.310]now that we're out of the pandemic,
[00:18:52.050]and we can do things more or less
[00:18:54.390]the way we'd like to get back to doing that,
[00:18:55.980]are there some things that you learned about yourself,
[00:18:58.200]and your interviewing ability,
[00:18:59.370]and your professional skills through the Pandemic?
[00:19:06.512]So I think the biggest thing I learned from the Pandemic
[00:19:12.690]is definitely that I'm not my job.
[00:19:14.940]I think before the Pandemic
[00:19:16.770]I was very wrapped up in my identity
[00:19:19.710]as a journalist reporter in this role first.
[00:19:23.010]And I think during the pandemic,
[00:19:24.780]and especially launching "Unmuted" during the pandemic,
[00:19:26.970]and there was a vulnerability
[00:19:29.160]during that time in my interviews,
[00:19:33.270]and I think I got a little less me focused,
[00:19:35.970]and a little more we focused,
[00:19:39.240]I'm less ambitious in my career for me,
[00:19:42.180]and more trying to think holistically
[00:19:43.740]about how I can use my skills
[00:19:45.240]to sort of heal some of the things I've seen
[00:19:47.940]exposed over the last couple of years.
[00:19:50.100]So I think like my actual purpose in the industry
[00:19:52.200]has just been a little more streamlined.
[00:19:56.790]If that answers the question?
[00:19:59.070]It's just changed how I work in almost every way (laughs).
[00:20:03.953]I work less, but I work more effectively,
[00:20:06.030]and I just lead with empathy and a little less ambition.
[00:20:11.550]I like the way you phrased that.
[00:20:13.663]We have a staff member here who says,
[00:20:15.037]"Simply being busy
[00:20:16.170]is not the same thing as being productive."
[00:20:18.090]So you're channeling your time
[00:20:20.010]in more productive ways it sounds.
[00:20:22.590]Yeah, and that's where, you know, I'm freelance now,
[00:20:24.690]and I think I was afraid of being freelance
[00:20:26.610]for a really long time,
[00:20:27.690]but actually it's allowed me to work on my passions,
[00:20:31.440]and kind of create opportunities out of those passions.
[00:20:35.760]So it's like I'm happier in it,
[00:20:37.170]I'm working less but working smarter,
[00:20:40.170]and I think that's hopefully the lesson we learned.
[00:20:43.470]Like you move to New York City,
[00:20:44.370]you get on that wheel immediately,
[00:20:46.470]and you're just sometimes working for the sake of working,
[00:20:49.380]and I think we all learn
[00:20:50.490]that that's not the best way to operate.
[00:20:52.650]So I'm still really passionate about the work though,
[00:20:55.950]but I just try to do it with more grace.
[00:20:59.040]We have a number of alums who have been freelancers
[00:21:01.470]most of their work career,
[00:21:03.000]but this was relatively new to you.
[00:21:04.680]You'd always had a network or a home base,
[00:21:07.830]or a company to lean in toward,
[00:21:10.650]and so now you're fully freelance.
[00:21:12.330]Was there even with all the confidence
[00:21:14.700]you gained over the years,
[00:21:15.810]was there initially sort of a moment
[00:21:17.370]of "Deep breath, I got this."
[00:21:20.400]Oh, I am deep breathing every day, Rick (laughs).
[00:21:24.000]Every day I start with a deep breath,
[00:21:25.567]"Okay, what are we gonna do today, do we get this?"
[00:21:28.590]No, truthfully, I was lucky enough to have some overlap.
[00:21:31.320]So I started freelance producing a podcast
[00:21:34.590]while I was working at Yahoo.
[00:21:36.210]So when Yahoo was done,
[00:21:37.800]I've still been working on this project.
[00:21:39.780]So it's given me some footing
[00:21:41.850]of I have something that I'm accountable to every week.
[00:21:45.090]What it has done is forced me out of my comfort zone,
[00:21:48.630]and I'm not somebody who ever asks for help ever,
[00:21:53.340]and I'm learning to do that,
[00:21:54.930]I'm using this network
[00:21:56.040]that I've grown over the last 15 years,
[00:21:57.810]and just trying to do what a good journalist does.
[00:22:01.020]It's just make those connections<
[00:22:02.820]and at this point I have friends everywhere,
[00:22:04.890]so it's not been a painful process,
[00:22:08.130]and it's allowed me to move more boldly,
[00:22:09.690]because I have always worked at a network,
[00:22:11.340]whether it was ABC, CBS or Yahoo.
[00:22:13.290]Yahoo was a network.
[00:22:16.050]So it is riskier, but I feel empowered in it right now.
[00:22:21.960]I told myself I'll give myself a year to do it,
[00:22:24.210]and see how I feel.
[00:22:26.010]Tell us about your podcast,
[00:22:27.150]as someone who has taught some podcast coursework
[00:22:29.460]here in our own college,
[00:22:30.360]I'm always intrigued to hear about the ones
[00:22:32.475]being done by alums.
[00:22:34.050]So podcasting is like this whole frontier, right?
[00:22:37.200]And I'm always somebody who wants to understand the medium
[00:22:41.970]before I start hosting and there's so many podcast hosts.
[00:22:45.210]So I thought I wanna produce,
[00:22:46.830]'cause I always see producing as my trade,
[00:22:49.650]whether it's in TV or audio,
[00:22:51.930]it's a trade, a skill that I love to develop.
[00:22:54.060]So I started working with Treefort Media,
[00:22:56.430]they're based out of LA.
[00:22:58.980]I'm working on my second project with them,
[00:23:01.050]and it's a docu-style podcast about Muhammad Ali,
[00:23:05.340]it's called "Ali in Me," and we're interviewing people,
[00:23:09.870]leaders today who embody the spirit of Muhammad Ali
[00:23:12.510]outside of the sport of boxing,
[00:23:13.890]because obviously he was the greatest
[00:23:15.090]of all time in the ring.
[00:23:15.923]But he did so much with activism
[00:23:18.480]and empowerment of the Black community.
[00:23:20.160]He was anti-Vietnam war.
[00:23:21.480]He did all of these things that are sort of like,
[00:23:23.670]we're grappling with in today's culture.
[00:23:25.560]So it's our way to examine his impact,
[00:23:28.200]and the people who were carrying his legacy forward.
[00:23:30.030]So we interviewed Will Smith, and Rosie Perez,
[00:23:33.660]and Killer Mike, Common, Bob Costas,
[00:23:38.340]and my job is to take all of those beautiful interviews
[00:23:42.600]that I wrote the questions and directed the shoots,
[00:23:45.120]and then I'm taking all the audio,
[00:23:47.160]and stretching it out over eight episodes,
[00:23:49.080]and we're bringing in some archival audio,
[00:23:51.390]and we're gonna make it great.
[00:23:52.500]And it's been a really fun challenge for me
[00:23:56.700]'cause it's my first docu-style podcast.
[00:23:58.620]But I think, again, when production is your trade,
[00:24:01.200]it's sort of some of the same things
[00:24:02.610]I learned with video production,
[00:24:03.840]and just retraining my brain a little bit.
[00:24:07.590]So it's been really fun.
[00:24:09.240]Hopefully that will launch this fall.
[00:24:11.640]That's our plan.
[00:24:13.920]Yeah, it's been dope (laughs).
[00:24:16.200]Certainly no shortage of people who can claim
[00:24:17.583]that their lives were inspired by Muhammad Ali.
[00:24:21.420]Yeah, with me now included,
[00:24:24.210]I can't say I gave him that much thought before.
[00:24:26.940]Obviously everybody knows who he is,
[00:24:28.350]but when you sort of dive into his life and his stances,
[00:24:32.400]it does make you walk a little taller.
[00:24:34.380]So I'm hoping that will be the impact of this podcast.
[00:24:37.620]Again, I'm so passionate about social justice,
[00:24:40.290]and so this was a way for me to use that passion,
[00:24:44.430]and try to educate and empower this generation as well.
[00:24:48.660]Well, as we're sort of transitioning into the futures side
[00:24:51.150]of this discussion,
[00:24:53.370]in your ongoing interest in
[00:24:56.280]and producing of documentaries for social justice causes,
[00:25:00.510]this is coming at a time
[00:25:01.590]when we're also seeing a certain amount of pushback
[00:25:04.320]on some of those issues nationally,
[00:25:07.230]either for political gain, or just for social rebounding,
[00:25:11.730]or whatever you wanna call it.
[00:25:13.980]You obviously must be paying attention
[00:25:15.330]to some of those forces.
[00:25:16.230]How is that driving you, shaping what it is that you do?
[00:25:20.520]Is it affecting you at all?
[00:25:22.950]Deeply, yeah, it's affecting me deeply.
[00:25:24.870]I'm a Black woman who grew up in predominantly White areas
[00:25:29.100]and has worked in predominantly White spaces
[00:25:32.580]for the majority of my career.
[00:25:34.350]So for me to be using my voice
[00:25:38.310]is for me to also be speaking up for myself,
[00:25:40.860]and my experiences, and the experiences of people
[00:25:42.900]that I know and love.
[00:25:43.733]So everything happening right now in the media,
[00:25:47.640]in Texas and Florida specifically,
[00:25:50.550]it just makes me wanna be louder.
[00:25:53.490]And so that was the reason for launching "Unmuted,"
[00:25:56.820]where these were voices that were underrepresented
[00:25:59.460]on other places, but with me, you're gonna get a megaphone,
[00:26:03.120]you know, so it has only deepened my work.
[00:26:06.750]And if you look at my career,
[00:26:07.770]I've been a little non-committal when it comes to a beat,
[00:26:11.310]you know, I've done travel, I've done finance,
[00:26:14.130]I've done news, I've done lifestyle,
[00:26:16.500]and while I still see myself as a lifestyle reporter,
[00:26:20.340]this ability to tackle social justice issues
[00:26:23.040]is very much how I brand myself now.
[00:26:26.430]So it will continue to be a part of my work forever,
[00:26:29.550]and this era of what's happening
[00:26:31.890]has only fueled that even more,
[00:26:33.540]like the importance of continuing
[00:26:35.760]to force people to have real conversations, yeah.
[00:26:40.140]So maybe while lifestyle historically
[00:26:42.750]took on more of a feature lighthearted kind of feel to it,
[00:26:46.890]the take you're looking at it right now
[00:26:48.660]is now this is truly the life of the lifestyle part of it.
[00:26:51.540]Yes, lifestyle, when you think about how this, you know,
[00:26:54.840]I think wellness and mental health
[00:26:56.400]can fit in lifestyle as well.
[00:26:57.690]So when you think about how the social justice events
[00:27:00.990]happening in our country are really impacting our bodies,
[00:27:03.600]ourselves, our minds, it is a wellness thing,
[00:27:05.940]it is a lifestyle thing.
[00:27:06.960]We do need to address these issues
[00:27:09.690]that are impacting our identities,
[00:27:12.300]and the ways that we're intersectional,
[00:27:14.640]it's just an unavoidable thing.
[00:27:16.230]We have to start healing some of this division,
[00:27:21.030]and while it may sound very, you know, Pollyanna,
[00:27:24.778]I just think this is like how I can help.
[00:27:29.790]Using your voice for the voiceless.
[00:27:31.569]That seems like one of the things that journalists
[00:27:33.210]have always tried to do.
[00:27:34.240]Yeah, and I've got a loud voice, Rick.
[00:27:36.390]I mean volumes always at 11, so (laughs).
[00:27:41.280]Well, looking at the industries,
[00:27:43.320]specifically the media industries
[00:27:45.240]that you've been very involved in,
[00:27:47.010]and continue to be involved in.
[00:27:49.290]You've been on kind of the,
[00:27:50.850]I don't wanna say the rollercoaster,
[00:27:51.900]but you've seen it from all sides at this point,
[00:27:53.730]including now being a freelancer.
[00:27:56.010]What are some of the biggest,
[00:27:57.750]as you look back on the biggest industry changes
[00:28:00.240]that you've observed and have lived through
[00:28:02.250]in the 15 years since you graduated.
[00:28:05.910]So many, Rick,
[00:28:07.140]I mean honestly like everything has changed
[00:28:11.520]since I graduated.
[00:28:12.510]The jobs I've had didn't exist when I graduated.
[00:28:17.280]So being adaptable is just a prerequisite
[00:28:20.760]in today's media landscape.
[00:28:22.740]And you know, I came up under Katie Couric,
[00:28:25.320]and people ask her all the time like,
[00:28:26.767]"How do I do what you did?"
[00:28:28.650]And I watched her from day one say,
[00:28:30.877]"You can't do it how I did it,
[00:28:32.820]because that doesn't exist anymore."
[00:28:35.010]And so I think we've all had to collectively grieve that,
[00:28:37.583]is that you can't just hop
[00:28:39.630]from local station to station,
[00:28:40.920]and then get your national shot, and then end up on,
[00:28:43.080]it happens for some people.
[00:28:44.610]But nowadays you really have to forge your own path,
[00:28:49.080]and it's difficult.
[00:28:50.850]It is just a difficult landscape.
[00:28:54.230]So the way we get jobs has changed,
[00:28:56.040]the jobs that exist change,
[00:28:59.310]the culture of media has changed.
[00:29:01.980]It's gone from like, you know, I've worked in newsrooms,
[00:29:03.930]and then I've worked in digital media companies,
[00:29:05.790]and there's a very distinct different culture.
[00:29:08.790]Money is hard to come by, there's less money than ever
[00:29:12.960]I feel like with traditional broadcast,
[00:29:16.020]digital media pays well.
[00:29:18.000]I stayed at Yahoo so long, because they paid very well,
[00:29:21.150]way more than any of the networks.
[00:29:24.420]So just everything has changed,
[00:29:25.860]and I've just found myself
[00:29:26.790]having to be incredibly adaptable,
[00:29:29.910]which is something I always knew I'd have to be,
[00:29:31.710]but not this much, you know?
[00:29:35.880]But I do remember at the J school,
[00:29:39.450]Barney teaching us about convergence,
[00:29:41.910]and that was like such a new thing of the internet
[00:29:44.190]and the TV coming together,
[00:29:46.740]and I remember us learning about it and being like,
[00:29:48.277]"Okay, we gotta figure out this internet thing,"
[00:29:51.480]and here we are.
[00:29:54.000]Have you embraced social media?
[00:29:57.240]To a degree, to a degree.
[00:29:59.790]I think social media could be incredibly problematic.
[00:30:04.260]I use Instagram to maintain a presence
[00:30:07.290]so people know what I'm doing.
[00:30:09.330]I don't overpost,
[00:30:10.410]I have a hard time believing
[00:30:13.200]that I need to post to gain followers,
[00:30:15.300]or to get, like I'm not interested in that game.
[00:30:17.730]I'm sure I'm missing out on some of the benefits
[00:30:22.020]that can come from that.
[00:30:22.853]I just hate being beholden to that.
[00:30:26.100]So, you know, social media for me
[00:30:28.470]is always something you should,
[00:30:29.760]you know, create a presence and have fun.
[00:30:31.470]But the way people were using Twitter to get their news
[00:30:34.650]always makes me a little nervous
[00:30:37.530]as we've learned specifically with Twitter,
[00:30:39.330]how harmful that can be.
That's also my personality.
[00:30:43.140]I have a hard time like sticking
[00:30:44.880]with having to post on a schedule,
[00:30:47.250]and I'd rather just be creating the content,
[00:30:49.560]and if people find it, they find it.
[00:30:52.050]I was thinking that because one of the things
[00:30:53.280]that I know a lot of our reporting graduates
[00:30:55.620]have had to do is to, you know,
[00:30:57.150]get to the scene, and then the first thing you do
[00:30:58.920]is tweet about it that I'm here,
[00:31:00.690]and I'll tell you more later,
[00:31:01.710]and then you get into the reporting,
[00:31:02.940]and it's added another layer certainly
[00:31:05.460]for what a lot of field reporters have had to deal with.
[00:31:08.130]But we're right in the middle of it,
[00:31:10.260]because since our students have to know how to use it,
[00:31:13.260]we're trying to teach them responsible use of social media
[00:31:16.350]and when to ignore it,
[00:31:18.420]and when to not get down that rabbit hole
[00:31:20.280]of "Oh yeah, you too," and all that sort of thing.
[00:31:22.590]Exactly, there is a balance,
[00:31:23.883]and also when it starts impacting your news gathering,
[00:31:27.540]are you in your phone,
[00:31:28.920]or are you paying attention to your surroundings?
[00:31:31.140]Are you looking for the, like it just should not hinder
[00:31:34.530]what you're doing, and maybe I have ADD,
[00:31:36.657]but it does hinder what I do so I just, you know,
[00:31:39.870]I check in on it, but I leave it.
[00:31:42.750]But I also am not doing news anymore.
[00:31:44.160]So I do understand the urgency with news,
[00:31:46.080]but I left news because I really didn't like the urgency.
[00:31:51.030]So what would you define as the biggest forces
[00:31:53.730]driving change in the media content production fields?
[00:31:57.330]What's causing all of this seismic upheaval?
[00:32:01.391]I think the marketing and ad side,
[00:32:04.500]at least when it came to digital content
[00:32:07.980]is a huge factor that I had to learn more about,
[00:32:10.680]and start to understand,
[00:32:12.341]because I think journalists can be super idealistic.
[00:32:13.980]We have an idea, "We're like this is important, this is why,
[00:32:17.160]here's my news peg,
[00:32:19.050]I want seven minutes to tell this story,"
[00:32:20.820]And they're like, "Well, we need a sponsor to pay for this,
[00:32:25.200]or we're only gonna let you run a three-minute story,
[00:32:27.870]because that's what the ad supports," or that's what,
[00:32:30.480]so that business side of it
[00:32:32.370]really starts to hinder your content,
[00:32:34.350]and the kind of content you're creating.
[00:32:36.060]Like if they can't sell it to an advertiser,
[00:32:38.400]they don't really care.
[00:32:41.010]And that's frustrating.
[00:32:42.390]So I think that hinders creativity.
[00:32:45.240]I think that hinders the sort of content
[00:32:46.920]that we're putting out there,
[00:32:48.622]because if it's not gonna be a moneymaker, they don't care,
[00:32:50.940]but what if it's about a very important social topic
[00:32:54.210]that people need to learn about?
[00:32:56.160]So for me at Yahoo that was always a point of frustration.
[00:32:58.950]Like unless we could get it sponsored,
[00:33:02.070]they really didn't care if it was a good story.
[00:33:07.177]I think that hinders some of the stuff going on right now,
[00:33:10.200]at least with digital media.
[00:33:11.850]It's like if they can't sell it, they don't care.
[00:33:14.340]Having just wrapped up teaching one of our,
[00:33:17.370]well the same ethics course that you took
[00:33:19.020]when you were here,
[00:33:19.853]the Mass Media, Ethics, and Society course.
[00:33:23.640]I'm always curious to know what folks
[00:33:25.590]who are working day to day
[00:33:26.820]in the media content creation areas
[00:33:29.670]think are the ethical challenges
[00:33:32.340]that you see moving forward,
[00:33:34.230]and what it is that you want to do.
[00:33:35.430]What are the things that make you stop, and give pause,
[00:33:38.730]before moving on.
[00:33:43.650]Ethically, wow (laughs).
[00:33:46.677]That's so loaded.
[00:33:50.130]Can you ask me that question again?
[00:33:51.360]Sorry, as soon as you said ethically I blacked out
[00:33:53.460]'cause I was like, there's so many things.
[00:33:55.619]Well I'm just thinking are there any,
[00:33:56.452]as you've worked through the areas
[00:33:58.440]that you've worked through,
[00:33:59.310]or the companies you've worked with,
[00:34:00.810]are there some ethical challenges
[00:34:02.640]that you think our students need to be prepared to deal with
[00:34:05.730]to get to where you are in your career
[00:34:07.980]or things that you still continue to encounter
[00:34:09.900]that make you sit back and pause?
[00:34:13.740]Yeah, I mean definitely, you know,
[00:34:16.080]when you have an editor,
[00:34:17.670]and that editor wants you to write something,
[00:34:20.580]and that's your assignment,
[00:34:21.660]that's always gonna be something you have to check in.
[00:34:25.140]You know, check in, do I feel comfortable?
[00:34:27.210]It is your job to write that article
[00:34:28.740]but sometimes you're like,
[00:34:29.573]I don't necessarily believe this, or I don't necessarily.
[00:34:33.030]So that's always,
[00:34:33.863]if you have an editor that's always gonna be a factor.
[00:34:38.130]Ethically, I haven't encountered anything
[00:34:39.870]that was too egregious.
[00:34:41.550]I just know as a whole the industry struggles.
[00:34:45.030]But as far as my experiences,
[00:34:50.040]ethically, clickbait and headlines
[00:34:53.910]are always the easiest way to sort of be misleading,
[00:34:57.060]and something that you should watch.
[00:34:58.740]I mean a lot of times you'll write something,
[00:35:00.360]and then they'll put a headline on it,
[00:35:01.590]or a teaser that is just completely false,
[00:35:04.380]but they're doing it to appease to marketers,
[00:35:07.050]or they're doing it to get clicks,
[00:35:08.700]but it makes you feel kind of dirty.
[00:35:12.480]So especially when I was working
[00:35:13.500]at a large digital media companies,
[00:35:15.360]sometimes that happened and you're like,
[00:35:16.957]"That's not what this story's about."
[00:35:19.200]So definitely you have to watch that,
[00:35:20.580]and you have to be ready to challenge it when you need to.
[00:35:26.310]I was once asked to interview somebody
[00:35:28.230]who I just fundamentally could not stomach.
[00:35:33.570]That's happened once in my career, and I said no,
[00:35:37.620]and they found somebody else to do it.
[00:35:38.820]So you know, just checking in with your own morals
[00:35:42.000]is super important,
[00:35:42.833]because you will be led to do things that are questionable.
[00:35:47.850]Well since we're meeting right now
[00:35:49.110]with our new crop of incoming fresh persons to the college,
[00:35:53.760]what are, looking at it from your perspective
[00:35:56.880]backwards to your days here now,
[00:35:58.350]what are some of the skills and and processes
[00:36:02.760]that you think all students in a media content college,
[00:36:06.000]like ours, are going to need to possess
[00:36:07.620]coming out of school?
[00:36:09.210]Yeah, skill wise,
[00:36:11.670]I know ChatGPT is gonna tell you something different,
[00:36:15.480]but writing to me is the most foundational important thing
[00:36:19.920]that you should work on and continue to nurture,
[00:36:23.130]because if you are a producer who can write,
[00:36:27.360]you will never be without a job.
[00:36:29.760]If you are a host or reporter who can write,
[00:36:32.790]you will be in demand.
[00:36:34.680]That is the skill that I have,
[00:36:35.970]I think has saved me through rounds of layoffs,
[00:36:39.510]but also that I've continued to nurture.
[00:36:41.640]Like I just took a 10-week writing course at Gotham Writing,
[00:36:45.420]because I was like, "I just wanna brush up on this."
[00:36:48.240]So writing for sure,
[00:36:49.200]don't think that that's not important.
[00:36:51.810]A good script will keep you en employed forever.
[00:36:55.560]And then I think when it comes to being on camera,
[00:37:00.930]the authenticity thing is so easy to say,
[00:37:03.570]but really being yourself,
[00:37:05.778]it took me maybe a couple years to understand
[00:37:06.960]what that meant.
[00:37:08.970]So I think really showing up authentically
[00:37:10.740]is what separates you,
[00:37:12.690]and what keeps you from just being another talking head,
[00:37:14.820]because we've all seen
[00:37:15.653]just like every talking head possible.
[00:37:19.350]But I have found that as I,
[00:37:20.700]especially at "BUILD" series,
[00:37:21.690]when I just started being myself,
[00:37:23.820]telling little corny dad jokes, and I talk really fast,
[00:37:26.970]and sometimes I stutter,
[00:37:27.930]like all these little things made it better.
[00:37:32.820]So I think not being afraid to be yourself is, you know,
[00:37:37.710]sounds super cliche but I can't tell people that enough.
[00:37:40.563]Now, I wanted to ask you about that,
[00:37:41.880]because I have admired watching you in your interviews
[00:37:45.300]seeming very comfortable,
[00:37:46.770]and I know how much that puts a guest at ease
[00:37:49.410]when the host or the interviewer is at ease.
[00:37:53.010]How did you find that,
[00:37:54.210]you say with the "BUILD" series,
[00:37:55.470]you learned just to become yourself.
[00:37:57.000]What was it that suddenly made that light go on,
[00:37:59.790]and and made it just more comfortable to be you?
[00:38:02.940]Yeah, you know at that job I was doing one to two,
[00:38:08.340]sometimes three live interviews a day,
[00:38:12.390]and the first five I watched,
[00:38:16.350]the first five interviews I did,
[00:38:18.850]and I was acting, like I could tell
[00:38:20.820]that I was just sort of like reacting to them,
[00:38:23.640]and keeping it, and I was like,
[00:38:25.177]"Well, this isn't fun for me."
[00:38:27.270]Like if I'm gonna be doing this with this frequency,
[00:38:30.780]it needs to be fun for me also.
[00:38:34.170]So I watched the first five,
[00:38:35.310]and then I thought let me just do one
[00:38:37.380]where I am, you know, free, and it was more fun.
[00:38:41.220]So I just started doing that and then people responded to it
[00:38:44.280]and then I was hearing from publicists
[00:38:45.600]that they liked bringing people to me,
[00:38:47.220]because they felt comfortable,
[00:38:49.260]and I think that's because I'm Nebraskan, and I'm nice,
[00:38:52.110]and I just was just being like that to people.
[00:38:55.500]After that though I don't watch my interviews,
[00:38:57.210]I think that also helps.
[00:38:58.170]So I watched the first couple,
[00:38:59.880]but I do not watch my interviews,
[00:39:02.550]mainly because I think that leads to me over-editing,
[00:39:06.480]and if you are just trying to be yourself,
[00:39:08.700]it's hard to watch yourself,
[00:39:09.870]and then just start picking things apart.
[00:39:12.120]So I think for me it's always important to see
[00:39:14.700]what your on-camera presentation looks like.
[00:39:16.740]See if you're talking quickly,
[00:39:18.180]what you're doing with your hands,
[00:39:19.680]sort of assess it,
[00:39:21.360]but I think if you get too consumed with watching yourself,
[00:39:23.820]you start being unkind to yourself,
[00:39:26.820]and you start over-editing,
[00:39:27.960]so that's how I got to that point, and now I just sort of,
[00:39:32.400]you do it, and you just assume it's always gonna be great,
[00:39:34.470]and I think that's just a coping mechanism
[00:39:36.540]just so I can leave it out there, and move on.
[00:39:39.840]Well once you heard that the bookers and the agents
[00:39:41.580]were starting to want to put their clients with you,
[00:39:43.950]because of how comfortable you were,
[00:39:45.450]that must have been incredibly validating.
[00:39:48.270]Oh, incredibly validating, yes.
[00:39:50.670]Especially because it was a role
[00:39:51.930]where there was another host doing my job as well,
[00:39:55.680]and he had been there first, you know,
[00:39:58.130]so you tiptoe into those situations
[00:39:59.850]'cause I'm not trying to compete with him, or you know,
[00:40:02.340]but when I started getting people requesting me,
[00:40:05.610]it did feel good because I was like,
[00:40:06.937]"Okay, I've shown up in this space,
[00:40:08.460]and they appreciate the work I'm doing,"
[00:40:09.930]and I'm working incredibly hard.
[00:40:11.310]So it did feel really validating,
[00:40:13.710]and I still see those publicists, you know,
[00:40:16.560]we're out in the world and they remember me, so it's nice.
[00:40:20.976]We know that more and more of our students
[00:40:22.710]will be living this sort of gig economy lifestyle here
[00:40:26.340]down the road, and the pandemic helped drive a lot of this.
[00:40:30.330]What's your day like
[00:40:31.560]when you're totally the captain of your own ship here,
[00:40:34.950]what do you do to try to line up
[00:40:36.930]your next reporting or writing gigs?
[00:40:39.990]Yeah, that has been the most interesting part.
[00:40:43.500]I am doing a lot of coffees,
[00:40:46.980]just reconnecting with people,
[00:40:48.210]it's also a really good time to reconnect with people,
[00:40:50.280]because you haven't seen a lot of people
[00:40:51.810]in two or three years because of the pandemic.
[00:40:54.420]So just reaching out to people, "Hey, I'd love to catch up,"
[00:40:56.790]get a coffee. I don't really ask for anything,
[00:40:59.010]I just more like let people know what I'm doing,
[00:41:00.990]and what I can offer, and I always end it with,
[00:41:03.727]"If you see us collaborating, hit me up,"
[00:41:05.640]And that has honestly led to people being like, "Oh yes."
[00:41:10.920]For instance, my friend, Leah, works at CNBC,
[00:41:14.220]and we had drinks, and then,
[00:41:16.410]she ended up booking me on "The Today Show,"
[00:41:18.930]because they have a monthly segment with "The Today Show."
[00:41:20.850]So now that's something that I'm gonna get to do again,
[00:41:23.490]and hopefully build on that.
[00:41:26.220]So not being afraid to call in your network,
[00:41:29.280]but also you don't have to be aggressive about it,
[00:41:30.967]you know, you just sort of connect with people.
[00:41:33.600]So I've been doing that.
[00:41:36.270]So my day-to-day is working on the podcast,
[00:41:38.400]putting in a few hours there, reaching out emails,
[00:41:42.150]I'm trying to find an agent,
[00:41:44.550]I'm talking to two or three women right now,
[00:41:47.370]doing catch up emails with people.
[00:41:49.560]And then, also I go to pottery twice a week,
[00:41:54.600]and I read books, and I play the guitar,
[00:41:57.030]and I really just try to have balance,
[00:42:00.450]and I do find that having some balance
[00:42:03.480]makes me a little more focused on the work
[00:42:05.811]I need to do.
[00:42:07.560]Let me expand on that point, because up until,
[00:42:10.650]we had a panel at the college just a few years back
[00:42:14.520]of distinguished alums from each of the different majors,
[00:42:17.970]and as luck would happen,
[00:42:20.220]'cause they were all chosen independently of each other
[00:42:22.050]from the different majors the entire panel
[00:42:23.670]were made up of professional women,
[00:42:26.520]and they were all talking about how the work-life balance
[00:42:30.390]had become a much larger thing,
[00:42:31.980]not just for them, but for the people for whom they worked.
[00:42:35.100]And that was the first time I'd really heard
[00:42:37.320]so much concentrated attention to that phrase,
[00:42:39.660]the work-life balance, and now we see it all the time.
[00:42:41.700]In fact the the orientation,
[00:42:43.710]freshman orientation we had today,
[00:42:45.300]there was talk about how the university
[00:42:48.180]is committed to helping even incoming freshmen
[00:42:51.300]structure that time so that there's me time
[00:42:53.520]for them personally.
[00:42:56.066]What role that, you've touched on,
[00:42:58.080]but what role do you see that playing
[00:42:59.880]not just in your future,
[00:43:00.900]but in the future of all the young people
[00:43:03.120]who will come after you?
[00:43:05.130]I mean huge.
[00:43:05.963]We are collectively in a mental health crisis, right?
[00:43:09.510]So I think these ideas of balance,
[00:43:12.360]and these aren't just concepts,
[00:43:13.860]these are tactics people need to survive to some degree.
[00:43:17.940]We've been on that wheel working too much,
[00:43:19.860]and now we're off the wheel,
[00:43:20.760]and we need to figure out how to balance our lives better.
[00:43:22.860]So I think it will continue to be a focus,
[00:43:24.840]and I'm happy that this younger generation
[00:43:27.180]is making it a priority, and that, you know,
[00:43:30.030]colleges are providing support for that,
[00:43:32.040]because I do think it will create a workforce
[00:43:33.690]that is just healthier.
[00:43:36.450]For me personally, it's been game changing.
[00:43:40.260]Look, working in in broadcast is very stressful.
[00:43:43.950]It's just anxiety producing, my first,
[00:43:45.960]I was just an anxious ball in my 20s always,
[00:43:48.990]because there's always a deadline,
[00:43:51.095]there's always something going on,
[00:43:53.340]and so engaging in my mental health wasn't an option,
[00:43:57.300]at some point, I just needed to be more balanced.
[00:43:59.550]So I find that if I have a big week, or let's say,
[00:44:02.130]I have a "Today Show" segment coming up, right?
[00:44:04.110]And it's something I'm really excited about,
[00:44:06.390]for the week before, I'm waking up in the morning,
[00:44:08.820]I'm gonna journal, I'm gonna meditate for 15 minutes,
[00:44:13.020]I'm gonna stretch, and if I start every day like that,
[00:44:16.871]my anxiety's lower,
[00:44:17.760]and I can walk in to my presentation or my segment
[00:44:21.600]honestly feeling grounded, and much better at it
[00:44:24.750]than I would've been if I was this anxious mess.
[00:44:27.360]So I have found that it just enables me
[00:44:29.880]to be more present in my work.
[00:44:32.010]I can actually sit in a 45-minute interview, and be present,
[00:44:35.040]and not be thinking about all the things I need to do,
[00:44:37.740]because I've grounded myself for the day.
[00:44:40.890]It works for me,
[00:44:42.120]I always tell people try it out, see if it works for you.
[00:44:44.220]I do think it makes you a happier worker (laughs)
[00:44:49.050]'cause we all have to work,
[00:44:49.980]so you might as well have some peace while you're doing it.
[00:44:53.730]Well and toward that end,
[00:44:55.565]when you talk to younger people,
[00:44:56.610]when when you have a conversation
[00:44:59.556]with a high school student who says,
[00:45:01.297]"I wanna do what you do," what advice do you give them?
[00:45:04.620]Not 'cause thinking back to what Katie Couric says,
[00:45:07.110]you can't do it the same way I did,
[00:45:08.747]but what do you tell people?
[00:45:10.560]I say do it, I say follow your passions.
[00:45:12.810]If you love to write, write,
[00:45:14.400]if you love to do pottery, do pottery.
[00:45:16.110]If you, whatever you love to do as a journalist,
[00:45:18.720]I think you can grow that into your beat,
[00:45:21.270]or the thing that you're covering,
[00:45:22.350]or the documentary that you produce.
[00:45:24.330]Like I think following your passions,
[00:45:26.190]and that thing that lights you up
[00:45:29.760]makes navigating this industry so much easier,
[00:45:33.270]because you have to love it.
[00:45:35.070]As I mentioned earlier,
[00:45:36.270]you can't be in this for the fame and the accolades
[00:45:38.760]'cause that's honestly make-believe,
[00:45:40.440]like that doesn't exist.
[00:45:42.540]You really have to be following
[00:45:44.370]what you're passionate about.
[00:45:45.360]So I say early on if you wanna be Oprah one day,
[00:45:49.200]or you wanna be Don Lemon, whoever you wanna be,
[00:45:51.960]start with what you love to do,
[00:45:53.610]what you love to cover, and then dive into that,
[00:45:56.040]and that I think will bring you
[00:45:58.770]where you wanna be ultimately.
[00:46:00.060]Because if I think about myself,
[00:46:01.290]I had a video camera at 15,
[00:46:02.487]and I was walking around documenting everything,
[00:46:06.180]and I had a journal at 14,
[00:46:07.440]and I was writing everything down.
[00:46:09.510]I'm the same person I was,
[00:46:11.190]and I just followed those passions into a career.
[00:46:13.590]So that's what I can say,
[00:46:15.990]and I think that ultimately leads to that balance
[00:46:19.200]that we're all trying to achieve.
[00:46:21.210]But my ride has been up and down,
[00:46:24.060]it's been uncertain at points,
[00:46:25.320]but I have honestly always loved it,
[00:46:27.660]because I'm doing what I enjoy.
[00:46:31.259]Well I'm sure it hasn't escaped you
[00:46:32.160]that by having an ongoing gig with "The Today Show" now
[00:46:35.940]that you and Katie Couric have one more thing in common-
Because she obviously
[00:46:39.780]put her time in that program as well, and-
[00:46:42.840]She probably thinks I'm like her little stalker (laughs).
[00:46:47.370]I'm sure she's very proud of you, so.
[00:46:49.665]She is, she has told me she's very proud of me,
[00:46:51.900]and I obviously melt when she says that.
[00:46:54.990]Well, in a series that talks about futures,
[00:46:56.850]I would be remiss in not asking you what's in yours,
[00:46:59.566]you're gonna try the freelance thing for a while,
[00:47:02.160]and see how it plays, or are you kind of comfortable
[00:47:04.290]with where life is right now?
[00:47:05.880]I'm very happy with where life is.
[00:47:08.700]This year of trying out freelance has been really exciting,
[00:47:11.880]and I think I've had some opportunities
[00:47:13.710]that I didn't predict were gonna come my way.
[00:47:16.920]So I'm just following that energy.
[00:47:19.530]You know, my dream has always been
[00:47:21.000]to have my own talk-show-style series
[00:47:24.870]where I can really dig into some of these topics
[00:47:26.970]we've been discussing, you know,
[00:47:28.890]and create that safe space for conversation,
[00:47:31.470]and start to heal some of this division in my own way.
[00:47:35.160]So yes, I would love my own talk show.
[00:47:36.750]If there's any streamers or networks
[00:47:38.220]looking for a host, hit me up.
[00:47:40.230]But in the meantime,
[00:47:41.610]I'm just enjoying I trying my hand
[00:47:44.310]at some of these different things within media,
[00:47:46.050]and you know, the podcasting has been really fun,
[00:47:48.360]so that might lead to something else too.
[00:47:49.860]So I think I'm just really open, and again,
[00:47:52.140]being adaptable in this industry
[00:47:53.430]is maybe the best way to be.
[00:47:54.480]So I think I'm right where I should be.
[00:47:57.810]Well I'm eager to check out the podcast again.
[00:47:59.850]It's called "Ali In Me," and it's coming out,
[00:48:02.040]it'll be available this fall, correct?
[00:48:03.750]We're shooting for August, or September, yeah.
[00:48:06.000]Cool, I look forward to hearing that one.
[00:48:08.310]Thank you for your time,
[00:48:09.240]always a pleasure to catch up with you.
[00:48:10.590]You seem really happy, and I'm thrilled for you for that.
[00:48:13.230]Hope things continue down that same path,
[00:48:15.120]and thanks for being willing to take time
[00:48:16.530]to talk to our audience this week.
[00:48:18.510]Thank you, Rick, and it was so good to see you again.
[00:48:20.220]I haven't seen you since my J school days,
[00:48:21.930]so I'm happy that kids are still getting
[00:48:23.610]to have Professor Alloway, 'cause he's a gem, guys.
[00:48:27.330]You're welcome back anytime.
[00:48:29.580]Our guest today on "Campus Voices"
[00:48:31.230]has been Brittany Jones Cooper
[00:48:32.730]in the life of a freelancer working out of New York City
[00:48:35.370]at the time.
[00:48:36.360]This has been "Campus Voices."
[00:48:37.830]I'm Rick Alloway, and as always, I thank you for your time.
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