Last week I had a panel of patch.com in my introduction to journalism class. The six panelists were five local editors and the regional editor Kurt Greenbaum who is a counterpart to Holly Edgell, another guest speaker from patch who visits my class before. The five local editors were Jim Baer from Ladue-Frontenac Patch, Tamara Duncan from Lake Saint Louis Patch, Maggie Rotermund from Wentzville Patch, Joe Barker from St. Peters Patch and Chase Castle from Ballwin-Ellisville Patch.
Greenbaum covered courts at the newspaper in South Florida. Afterwards, he worked as online news director at the Saint Louis Post Dispatch.
Baer has been a journalist since he is nine years old. During the Vietnam era he was a broadcaster, editor and writer. He was sports editor of the St. Louis Suburban Journals for 16 years.
Duncan worked as a teacher, reporter, freelance writer and magazine editor. She already started to write for the newspaper in the 5th grade.
Rotermund worked for three years at The Missourian, before she made the decision to complete her master´s degree in international relations. After her degree she went back in journalism.
Barker studied journalism and worked on the campus newspaper. He spent the last two years at the Hannibal Courier-Post and worked there as a sports editor.
Castle was inspired by the movie Almost Famous to start a journalism career. He wrote stories which appeared in The Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune.
Something they would do in young age
Greenbaum mentioned that he should have appreciated how important his first job was. He should have read more financial reports to understand the importance of business news. Additionally, he informed the class that intellectual curiosity is really important. Barker said that “we were 60 people working for the college newspaper. Now we are only five people working for the daily newspaper.” He wished that someone told him earlier how more stress and effort it is to work for a daily newspaper. “I did not know how important some classes are”, added Rotermund. Nowadays, she recognized that you always have to do something that you do not want to do. Castle agreed, but he also told us that “your craft always come first.” Baer mentioned, “learn multimedia skills at school would be great” because you have to know how to shoot, write and photograph.
Advices for future journalists
“To start out hyperlocal is great”, informed us Rotermund, because it is a good opportunity to learn how to handle criticism. It is also a good opportunity to learn how people are impacted. Baer followed up by telling us that we should “care about words more than pictures.” Duncan gave us the advice to “make sure to stay current with the new stuff.”
“You can´t be a writer when you not read.”
Advice on finding a career in journalism
Baer told us that we should “set a laser focus on the job you want.” And Barker agreed, because “you just need one job.” Rotermund informed us that it is “not realistic anymore just to work for one company.” These days you have to constantly reeducate yourself and “keeping up what´s going on in life.” Greenbaum gave the entire class a hope that there still exists a huge demand of information. This means that “journalists are still needed.” Rotermund agreed that journalists are still important.
Where do journalists get their stories?
Castle mentioned that twitter has a great potential to find new stories. He also said that “sometimes you just hear something in a bar about a man.” Regarding to Greenbaum the key to find a story is to be curious and ask people questions. Rotermund jumped in by quickly and said it is very important to be an active part in your community. It is significant to be out and go to events, because of that people have the chance to get to know your face and trust you. She followed up by telling us, if we are interactive “you can end up get good stories.” Baer told us that you should have a lot of contacts and scanners and stay connected all the time to get good stories.
To sum up I have to say that it was a great experience to hear the panelists talk about careers in journalism as well as their jobs today. For me, their job sounds really interesting but I am not sure if I want to work as a patch editor, because they have to work 24 hours each day to be able to cover every important story and to stay up to date.