The University of Southern Mississippi welcomed back Chuck Scarborough, Sally Ann Roberts and Irv Cuevas, media veterans and Southern Miss alumni, as they taught a Master Class for students in the School of Mass Communication and Journalism.
Chuck Scarborough was the guest of honor: a 33-time Emmy Award winner, he recently celebrated his 39th anniversary at WNBC-TV in New York. He spoke at his Master Class after he was inducted into the MCJ Hall of Fame.
Scarborough completed his degree at Southern Miss while working at WDAM. He drove to New York without a job and knocked on doors.
“It takes courage and belief in yourself to get out there,” Roberts said.
Taking 21 hours each semester and working nights gave Scarborough self-confidence. He said students working their way through college is a plus for him when he is hiring because he says it “speaks a lot to character.”
The honored alumni shared stories of their work experiences and changes the media has been forced to make. They also challenged students to do their best and offered advice for advancing in a broadcast career.
“The tools you have at your disposal are remarkable,” said Scarborough of the expansion of journalism and the use of social media. “You have more weapons in your quiver than we ever dreamed of. You are going to have to be able to work many platforms. You are challenged to do more with a wider skill set,” he said.
Roberts stressed the necessity of knowing how to do a little bit of everything and said curiosity is a key attribute to becoming a good journalist. “Listen. Let your natural curiosity lead you,” she said.
Scarborough encouraged students to think harder, do more research and to listen and pay close attention when doing interviews. He said learning a foreign language and developing a large vocabulary may help advance a career.
The alumni also gave job-searching tips to broadcast majors.
“Just be yourself. You do not want a stilted, unnatural voice. Conversational style is best,” Scarborough said. He added that students should learn new technology and have thick skin because there will be more times they will hear ‘no’ rather than ‘yes.’
“Be enterprising and distinguish yourself,” said Scarborough. “Show that you can do things more interesting or different than your competitor.”
Cuevas said broadcast majors will be asked to present a tape of their best work when applying for jobs. It’s important to put the best work at the beginning because interviewers will press eject if nothing catches their eye in the first 20 seconds. He also said tapes should show creativity.
“If you want to be on TV, you have to watch TV news,” said Cuevas when telling students to keep up with current events.
“I do not remember what you said, but I remember how I felt,” said Roberts about attending a presentation by Scarborough when she was in college. “I felt invigorated. I felt like I could do this.”
Students echoed this same sentiment after hearing the presentation from the alumni.
“I thought it was a great privilege to have one of the most successful broadcasters of all time to impart his wisdom,” said Trevor Gray, a senior broadcast journalism major. “Just hearing his advice made me feel much more happy with my career choice and made me want to strive to not only succeed, but to be the best,” he said.
Roberts left the group some advice for success, the five p’s: pray, prepare, proceed, persevere and praise.
“I think it is really important for students to see Southern Miss grads that have done well and to see what their future could look like if they work hard. That’s what the Hall of Fame is all about,” said Christopher Campbell, professor and director for the School of Mass Communication and Journalism.
For more information about the School of Mass Communication and Journalism, visit www.usm.edu/mcj.