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Brian Williams answers questions and shares advice with Elon University students

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Brian Williams answers questions by Elon University students. Photo by Julia Sayers.

By Julia Sayers

Brian Williams, of NBC Nightly News, held a question and answer session for Elon University students on April 8 in Whitley Auditorium.

Williams talked about the importance of having passion and being interesting and honest. He said if students aren’t passionate in journalism, they’re not going to make it.

Williams, who came from a humble background, started his journalism career at a small news station in Kansas. He worked his way up to the position he is in now and encouraged students to do the same.

“Hang on and keep pushing if you have a fire burning inside of you,” Williams said.

Williams said students who want to be good journalists must work to make that happen, not just sit back in entitlement.

“I have found that the kids who want it are not from entitlement. They’re intuitive, they’re smart, they put themselves in a position where they’re going to make their own luck happen,” Williams said. “Become indispensable.”

Another important characteristic of a good journalist is curiosity.

“Curiosity is what drives journalists,” Williams said. “A good journalist is always going to be curious. And having passion helps too.”

Journalists must not only be curious, but also honest in the way they present their stories.

“We’re in an era of ‘get out there,’ but you have to present a good representation of the company and deal with the story truthfully,” Williams said.

In an age where there is an overwhelming amount of media outlets and ways to get news, Williams talked about the importance of standing out.

Brian Williams gives students and aspiring journalists career advice. Photo by Julia Sayers.

“There’s so much competing for our time and attention,” Williams said. “I’ll scroll through the news online and if the headline of an article doesn’t grab me, I won’t look at it.”

In addition to having an interesting and informative headline, journalists must also know the proper way to write.

“There is a way to write, there is a way to cover a story, and that’s going to be the dividing line and set you apart for the rest of your career,” Williams said.

Williams also answered questions about balancing his serious news side with his TV appearances on shows like 30 Rock and making time for his family. When asked if he felt that his sometimes dangerous role as a newscaster was worth the risk, he responded that it was more than worth it.

“It hasn’t altogether been fun for my family, but it’s been immensely fulfilling,” Williams said. “We have to make sacrifices but we make it work. The benefits outweigh the bad.”

Williams also answered questions about current events and gave advice to students interested in sports journalism.

(Apologies for the quality of the video below)


Written by juliasayers

April 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm

One Response

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  1. You packaged this well in regard to including the photos with good captions in your storytelling. If you didn’t know it before, you know this now: You CAN’T ZOOM WITH THE FLIP CAMERA. You have to leave it pulled back. They should not even put the zoom on the cameras because using it ruins the video – blurs it tremendously. You also have shaky video – partly because you were zoomed in and partly because you should have thought to check out a tripod or you should have found some way to steady the camera on the seat arm or a chairback in front of you while shooting. Live and learn. Never zoom again. It would be best for you to just use some video shot by someone else that’s steady – possibly tap into video by university relations.


    April 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm

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