ABC 13 Reporter Melanie Lawson spoke at Sam Houston State University for Mingling with the Media.
Mingling with the Media is an event hosted by Priority One in which successful journalists are invited to share their advice and professional journey.
“[We chose to invite Lawson] because she has a wealth of broadcast journalism experience, and what better person for a student to learn about broadcast journalism, or just the field of journalism in general,then from someone with such a notable career,” Priority One Professor Peter Roussel said. “Wisdom, wisdom, wisdom, what better person to impart wisdom to students on this field. We are also long time friends, we have worked together professionally and personally, and she is an outstanding member of the community.”
Lawson entered the packed studio personally introducing herself to several members of the audience.
She shared her struggles of when she was a college student unknowing of what she wanted to do after graduation. She started as an intern at ABC News while she was in college, working one summer at the White House and another in Philadelphia.
“That’s when I learned that I loved television,” Lawson said. “I didn’t know what kind of job I wanted, I just knew I like reading, writing and I was nosey.”
Throughout the event, Lawson amazed the audience as she told the story of the first time meeting Beyoncé when she was a young girl singing in her mother’s beauty shop in Houston. She got several laughs when she told the story of the time she fell out of her chair on national television.
According to Lawson, the best career choice is the one that makes you the happiest.
“You’ve got to love what you do,” Lawson said. “Work for love, not money.”
She also encouraged all students to get involved in internships as soon as possible because they are virtually the only way to get into the media market.
“Do internships while you’re still in school,” Lawson said. “I am a firm believer in internships, and get them done sooner than later.”
According to Lawson, the life of a broadcast journalist is not an easy one. There are times that journalists must drive into the eye of a hurricane with enough clothes to last you a week sleeping at the station, while the rest of the city is evacuating.
“No room for divas,” Lawson said. “If you remember one thing, remember that.”
She offered advice on networking—stressing that social media is a huge asset. Students and new reporters should follow pages such as local city halls, police departments, etc. in order to get to know them.
“Social media is a requirement,” Lawson said. “I have been dragged kicking and screaming into social media, but I have reluctantly accepted it.”
According to Lawson, her most essential piece of advice is to develop the sense to recognize a story before anyone else does.
“What makes a good journalist, is recognizing what is history before it is history,” Lawson said.
She encourages everyone to follow her on Facebook and twitter at @ABC13MelanieLawson.