In class on Tuesday Sean P. Sullivan, an associate producer for Mass Live, and a U-mass Alum, came into class to talk to us about what he does as a journalist. On Mass Live he describes his job as this,
“I’m the multimedia manager for the site, which means when I can get away from my desk I shoot photos and video and record sound. I also write about state and local politics for The Fray, our political blog. I’m a New Jersey native and a UMass alumnus, and I spend a lot of my free time fiddling with cameras.”
He started by describing what he does on the average day. For instance Sullivan wakes up very early in the morning, gets to work, and makes sure that the Mass Live website is running alright. He spends the morning doing that followed by an afternoon of working on projects.
It sounded like Sullivan often has to work at odd hours of the day. For instance, when the tornado hit Springfield this summer he was in charge of making sure all of the news uploaded to the website was running smoothly. Which meant he worked through the evening into the night.
Recently Sullivan put together a retrospective of the Springfield tornado. It was a video of photographs taken after the tornado. Sullivan used interviews from a historian and photojournalist to tie together the montage of pictures.
Sullivan seems passionate about getting people involved in local politics through his journalism. He said he wants local candidates to be more accessible to the public. Online forums called “Ask The Candidates” are used to encourage discussion between voters and electoral candidates. People can post to the story and ask questions. Sullivan said he wants this to be a place where people can realize that elected officials and candidates are approachable people even if they do have big budgets.
He gave our class some great multimedia tips. Like how to download any Youtube video. What a Topics page is and the barebones of how it works. But two of the tips he gave us stood out more then the others.
Sullivan encouraged us to learn HTML, assuring us that it is easy to learn, saying we could grasp it in a matter of weeks. He said that if we are looking for jobs in multimedia journalism this is a necessary tool to be able to put on our resume. A tool that, even though it seems anything other then, is actually quite simple.
He had also just come back form the ONA conference. Sullivan suggested that we all join, saying that the student membership rate is really affordable. Networking is extremely important in the field of journalism. “I have only had one interview,” Sullivan said. All his other jobs and internships in the field have been gotten through networking.
Don’t network with just anyone though, he cautioned. Make real, face to face, connections with journalists you admire was Sullivan’s advice on the subject.
I thought the presentation made the idea of becoming a journalist more real. It isn’t something that people in a far off place do. It is something that people who have graduated from my university are currently doing.