Having speakers in class can go one of two ways, with little in between, the speaker is really good and you cant believe class is already over OR they seem ridiculous and all you find yourself doing is judging their every move. In my Journalism 101 class we had Mark Mayfield speak to us and I’m glad to say he was one of the former.
Brief on Mark Mayfield: He went to the University of Alabama he was the Editor and Chief of the Crimson White. He went on to be a journalist for many years in the real world. He worked with interior design magazines and was one of the founders of USA Today, working there for ten years. He has written three books one was about NASA and space travel; the most recent is about the Crimson Tide football team, and their domination over 15 national championships focusing on the seniors of the 2012 team. Now he is the Associate Director of the University of Alabama Editorials. So pretty much Mayfield is just a really cool, well-rounded guy.
Cool Fact: USA Today was the first newspaper to use satellite to bring the most recent news to over 40 printing presses all over America.
One of the first subjects he touched was that print is NOT out. This is an issue many people don’t think about because they like the convenience of having their news on their tablets, computers, and phones. But for a college freshman majoring in Journalism the fear of job opportunities in the future is terrifyingly close on my mind and I’m sure for many others.
Cool Fact: The Crimson White, The University of Alabama school newspaper makes over one million dollars in ad revenue this year.
Even with his comments about print he also said that Internet is huge and is growing. But Journalism as a career is all about change and the adventure that comes from it. No matter how comfortable you get with a process there will always be change ahead to over come.
“Go do it now” said Mayfield. We are the most creative when we are young, so do it now. Get your best work out there and take chances. This fall, my first semester of college, has been a time that I have pushed myself to face fears. I still have a lot more work to do but I had to start somewhere! Mayfield shared what he feels is his best work. He believes it’s a story that he wrote when he was in his early 30’s when he spent weeks following unsolved civil rights lynching murders. He felt that those stories he wrote about had the biggest impact, and they were even recognized by Oprah Winfrey.
Mayfield said his advice for any journalist is when you do an interview with someone make sure to go do the interview in person. When your there you think of different questions then you would have never known to ask other wise. Also when everything is winding down to an end make sure to ask the person your interviewing the unasked question. “Can you tell me something different about yourself, something no one knows?” Some people will say no and its okay, but sometimes they will have something really special to share that they are really proud of.
Your research becomes what you like: another topic Mayfield brought up. This is something I had never thought about but I really connected with. As I wish and dream of becoming a writer for a women’s magazine for fashion or bridal I also know that as long as I’m writing and helping to bring needed information to an audience I will be happy. Mayfield said he started really writing when he wrote in high school about Antique furniture for family; he later went in to writing for interior design magazines. It’s the value of the work that means the most.
But sometimes it’s the stories your interested in that you follow. When Mayfield was an editor of a magazine he assigned himself feature stories that allowed his to travel all over the world to research art. I’m assuming this is an example of a perk of being in the position of power. One of the stories he pursued was about Van Gogh. He traveled to spots all over Europe to take pictures and compare the scenes to originals of Van Gogh paintings.
The last impression he left with us was to make sure to have diversity within you. I think he means this in the way that the more you can connect different parts of the world around you the more clear your message will be and the more versatile of a journalist you will be.
What do you think makes the best journalist?