Dr. Lori Henson is currently a professor at Indiana State University. She started out as a reporter at the Tribune Star during her undergrad years. She then went on to work for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Later, Henson moved to Idaho. After her trek across the U.S, she made her way to Terre Haute to teach college students at the university. My favorite quote by her is, “Reporting was like playing for me.”
What’s a typical week like?
I would come in to work…there would be a couple of ongoing stories that I’d be working on continually. Some random story might come up. It’s important to be able to manage time. In working for a newspaper, there will be newsworthy stuff, but the majority of it you have to come up with…a lot of time is spent talking with people.
Tell me about a project you worked on that you are especially proud of.
I was a part of a business team (Economy team) in Georgia. I covered agriculture as a business. The team did a series called “Changing the face of farming, ” (6 part series). As a group, we looked at developments of farming (trade, technology, scientific development). This series became popular enough, so it ran as its own section.
What do you do to keep current in the journalism industry?
I read anything and everything every day (Ex: Colombia journalism review, Jim Romenesko-columnist). I try to keep up with students, where they’re working and what’s happening.
What do you wish you would have known before starting your career in journalism?
People need to understand that the job is the job. You leave the office, go talk to people, and you tell their stories. There are certain glamourous aspects of working for some jobs, but you need to love the actual work.
How important is writing in your career?
Very important. It’s everything.
What three tips would you offer someone just starting out in journalism?
- Get an internship
- Be curious
- Don’t second guess yourself. If you have a question, ask it.
After interviewing this person, are you (the student, not the practitioner) more or less likely to want to have a career in journalism? Why?
I never thought that journalism would be something that I would want to do, but Dr. Henson definitely sparked an interest. She spoke so enthusiastically and passionately about journalism, and that is honestly what changed my mind about working as a journalist. She made the job sound fun and not so much like a job, rather a privilege and “play” time.
Did your education prepare you for working in journalism? How?
Yes. BUT…After my first class I pretty much got it. It’s all about practice. It’s not about mastering a particular writing style. It’s about knowing how to think. If you don’t know what’s fair and just in the world, then you don’t have anything to write about.
How does technology affect your daily work?
Technology is a means to our end. The more technology, the more ways we have to tell a story. Technology is a toolkit. News has to get around. Technology is important but it doesn’t define what we do. We use equipment to get our ideas across, but it does not limit us.
What professional organizations are you involved in?
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, International Communication Association, Society of Professional Journalists, National Association of Black Journalists.
Connect with Dr. Henson on LinkedIn.