By Stephanie Ball
Kristin McKenzie was an intern at The Dallas Morning News and is currently searching for a journalism job.
1. How and when did you become interested in journalism?
I grew up reading the newspaper with my mom as a child. She was an avid news reader and always watched the nightly news as well. My interest in journalism really started when I was right out of high school. I enrolled in basic courses at Richland College and then had to take a break to focus on working and saving for a car.
During my semester off, I worked at Sonic Drive-In and actually stumbled upon my passion for journalism during that time. As a roller-blading carhop, every morning I would glide over to the news stand not far from my work and pick up my daily dose of news. Then, in between customers, I would read the paper and share what I learned with my customers and coworkers throughout the day. It was an everyday thing and in a way I discovered my love for journalism without intending to.
During my semester off, I decided to take the Myers-Briggs personality test at Brookhaven College and switched to that school. I then took classes based on what the results of the test said. One of those classes was News Gathering and Writing 1.
I had no idea what to expect, but it was the best class I ever took and it opened the door to many wonderful learning opportunities in my life. Before the class was over, I became a part of the newspaper staff as copy editor.
2. How long have you been in the field and when did you start?
I have been in the field of journalism for about six years. That was when I first enrolled in the News Gathering class. I consider that as entering into the field because my stories were published, and it was no longer like writing for only a professor to read. Virtually anyone anywhere could read my stories online. At Brookhaven I wrote about 100 stories in every genre.
Then I went to the University of North Texas and wrote, shot, edited and produced newscasts for the Web and television. During my last semester, I interned at The Dallas Morning News for the website Dallasnews.com. I wrote breaking news stories, took pictures and shot video for both print and online. Currently, I am job searching for a career in the field since graduating from UNT’s school of journalism in May.
3. What have you learned while in the field?
I have learned that it’s important to people to tell their stories and that it can change lives of not only subjects but also the readers. Everyone has a story and something to teach others.
4. What prepared you for your profession?
Working and learning at Brookhaven with Larie Engles, Dr. John Neal, Wendy Moore, Daniel Rodrigue and Rori Harrington prepared me to be an open-minded, unbiased, fair and balanced, and accurate reporter.
My fellow journalists at the paper also taught me a great deal. All of the journalism conventions, travels and competitions at TIPA and TCCJA challenged me to improve my writing, researching, interviewing and organization skills. Then UNT and professors like Nann Goplerud, John Sparks, Neil Foote and Dr. Nikhil Moro helped guide me as well.
5. What advice do you have for future journalists or Media students?
My advice would be to step out of your comfort zone. It opens doors to discover talents you never knew you had. Don’t just stick to one genre of writing like sports, critiques, news, or features, attempt them all.
Learn how to cover a beat extremely well. Make people want to give you the information first. Go into interviews well-read. Listen well.
Learn to take good news photos, shoot video, edit audio, video and photos. This will pay off, I promise. Never be afraid to ask a mentor or coworker to review your work. Get feedback before and after going into a story.
6. If you had a superpower what would it be and why?
My superpower would be the power to heal, because I love to help others.
7. What was your favorite memory at the Brookhaven Courier?
I do not have a particular favorite memory at The Courier. There are far too many wonderful memories to choose from. The memories of the sometimes 14-hour press nights we spent poring over the paper while still being able to laugh and enjoy working together stand out the most. Our dedication to put out the best quality – in every sense of the word – newspaper drove us to work many unpaid hours for the sake of our readers.
8. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a veterinarian, artist, lawyer and judge.
9. Who is your inspiration and why?
My inspiration stems from my grandparents, who treasured family time and pushed education for the improvement of everyone’s lives. Then, my parents are my main source of my inspiration. My mother is the hardest working, most dedicated woman I know of. She always puts her family first. My father is also my inspiration, because he pushes me to be the best I can be, to set high goals and follow through.
10. What are some challenges and advantages of your profession?
Challenges of this profession include running into the chaos when others are running away. It is our job to keep people informed, and sometimes that means taking risks. The advantages are that we get to make a difference in people’s lives and learn new things every day.