Jeff McShan, news reporter at KHOU, gives advice to student journalists
Born and raised in Houston, Jeff McShan is a general assignments news reporter at KHOU. The SHSU graduate offered his knowledge and gave advice to new reporters.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a reporter?
JM: I wanted to be a sportscaster forever; I knew I wanted to help people.
Q: In your 25 years of reporting, how has journalism evolved?
JM: In a bad way really; so many reporters sensationalize now. If you watch media now, everything is exaggerated, especially national news. That’s why it’s important to tell the young people that accuracy matters. That’s why I’m proud of local news. It’s honest, there’s balance, straightforward and we tell the truth.
Q: How important do you feel social media is?
JM: Oh, it’s very important. For a long time I didn’t think it was but it’s huge. Young people don’t really watch television news they’re looking stuff up on the Internet. We’re actually required to have Facebook and Twitter for work so we have to always push it. We also have rules though… we can’t always put stories up on there if they haven’t aired yet since our competition might see it.
Q: Besides taking classes, how can college students prepare themselves for journalism careers?
JM: Nowadays, you are already a journalist. Anyone can take pictures and write about stories but it’s important to start doing your own stories. Start a website and start thinking about what stories are around you. There are stories all around us. You could do a story about how many people run red lights. You could take a camera and just record all the times people run them. Talk to people; anyone. Make a story of it and put that up on your website and you’ll slowly start to build up. It’s just important to start doing things now.
Q: What is your favorite part of being a reporter?
JM: Helping people; it’s awesome! I mean sometimes you’ll cover stories about a girl who got beat up by her boyfriend or died and it’s just sad but you have to look at the big picture and think, well, maybe another girl will see this and leave her abusive boyfriend.
Q: What is the worst part of being a reporter?
JM: Sensational stories. It’s very easy for new reporters that are overwhelmed or frustrated about deadlines and stories to over-exaggerate facts, but it’s crucial that this doesn’t happen.
Q: Did you prefer to do news or sports broadcasting?
JM: Sports was my first choice, but as I became older I noticed the world around me and realized that everyone has a story.
Q: What advice can you give to journalists that are just starting out?
JM: You better have your stories now. Don’t wait until after you’ve graduated to try and get experience, it’s just not realistic. A lot of graduates just think, ‘I got my diploma, I’m going to get a job now.’ The person who has that website set up and worked on stories, the ones who get exclusive stories, they’ll get hired on the spot!
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Here. I’ve been here 20 years so unless one of you new reporters takes my job, then here or somewhere else in Houston.
By: María Esperanza Gudiño Carruyo