NBC 5 reporter offers advice to students

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NBC 5’s Chris Van Horne began his discussion Monday night with TCU’s Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) similar to how many strangers begin a conversation; he talked about the weather.

More specifically, he talked about the media’s coverage of the weather and the audience’s fondness for it.

“We can get pretty redundant,” Van Horne said. “But people love that information, especially weather. If there are weather events we kind of go crazy, even if it’s just rain. People really respond to weather, so we follow that.”

Van Horne is technically a video journalist for NBC 5, however, he has done almost every job in the newsroom, which is why he recommends students to explore all roles of a newsroom in college.

“Try to learn everyone’s job,” Van Horne said. “That helps you do your job better. Soak up everything, because I think that benefits you in the long run.”

Van Horne has been a professional reporter for almost 10 years, and worked in Bakersfield, Calif. for five and a half years before moving to Fort Worth to work at NBC 5. During this time, he said he has seen the rise of the web.

“When I started, the web was an after-thought,” Van Horne said. “It’s kind of amazing how much the Internet has changed so much about news organizations. The business is really still changing.”

This change is apparent, in the way Twitter has become mandatory for NBC journalists, Van Horne said.

“We’re encouraged and mandated to tweet about stuff throughout the day,” Van Horne said. “Which is why you see the Twitter handles underneath everyone’s name when they show up on TV.”

Van Horne also recalled his rise to a major market, saying that it was because he was one of the first video journalists in the market.

“I think I’m kind of rare,” Van Horne

However, for current students who can no longer be considered one of the first video journalists, he offered another piece of advice.

“You can rise through the ranks much faster as a producer,” Van Horne said. “Most of our producers are actually pretty young. They are constantly looking for good people who can write.”

Advice like this is what sophomore journalism major Madeline Peña, SPJ vice president and organizer of the event, said she hoped students would get out of the meeting.

“We hope that they can build connections and get a clearer idea about what they might want to pursue as a journalist,” Peña said. “We’re hoping this organization will really aid them in this process.”

This aid is something first-year journalism major Frank Jackson said he gained by attending the meeting.

“I think it was helpful for any journalism major and learning about how it is to be a journalist,” Jackson said.

SPJ members, as well as all TCU students, can look forward to more speakers, such as TCU alumnus Bob Schieffer, along with others, SPJ Vice President Hayley McCurdy said.

“We’re still planning on getting some people from the Star-Telegram” McCurdy said. “Hopefully a few radio stations, too, and try to cover all the spectrums and mediums of journalism to cater to a diverse population of journalism majors.”