ATLANTA, GEORGIA — Entering into her senior year at Auburn University in Alabama, Ariel Cochran, SPJ Region 3’s fall intern, is also the new president of the university’s national SPJ student chapter where plans are on the way for programming and new visibility of SPJ at the School of Communications and Journalism and university publications. Cochran is also an adviser for the SPJ Student Chapters Network launching in September.
In an interview with SizingUpTheSouth.com, Cochran talks about her Huntsville, Alabama roots and why print magazine writing is her passion.
Q: Where do you call home?
A: Huntsville “Rocket City,” Alabama is my stomping ground and the place I call home. The city is known for its NASA branch that produces rocket thrusters and for the Redstone Arsenal Base that holds a reserve of missiles and defense materials in bunkers. Redstone Arsenal also partners with local companies that produce defensive military equipment that is shipped nationwide.
Q: Do you have hobbies?
A: Since I was a child, I found myself wrapped up in my own world writing and drawing stories. I would consider myself a hobby novelist and illustrator. I am a culture enthusiast and love watching Korean Dramas, Spanish television series and listening to varieties of foreign music.
Q: What was the defining factor on why you decided to major in journalism at Auburn?
A: Auburn, at the time of me applying for college, was the strongest journalism program in the area that I could afford. I toured the campus on War Eagle Day before applying to the university and immediately felt at home. After being accepted October 2014 and when I stepped onto Auburn’s campus, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, journalism, and did not look back.
Q: Why do you want to work within the magazine print industry compared to just the online magazine industry?
A: Print will always exist in some form or fashion. There are people in our society, me being one of them, that still enjoy and appreciate the feel of glossy paper between their hands and the smell of the perfume samples within a magazine. On top of that, there is arguably a stronger connection to a story in a print magazine than behind an illuminated screen. It is because of this belief, that I still pursue working within the print industry as a journalist. I am aware that the journalism industry is within a transition to digital, and I am gearing myself with the skill set to work in both the digital and print field.
Q: What do you want to write about in the magazine industry?
A: Magazine journalism provides a journalist the ability to stretch, relax and hold a conversation with the reader when other channels of communication cannot. In my studies as an undergrad print journalist major, I have come to the conclusion that my niche as a journalist is long-form features that focus on social issues, personalities and lifestyle. It is my belief that everyone has a good story to tell and that it should be shared with others.
Q: The journalism industry is in flex. Why do you still want to work in journalism?
A: Accurate, trustworthy, information is important and we need caring, dependable, people to deliver that information I feel that as a person with a knack for writing, that it is my duty to breakdown complex issues and educate people through my writing. I know that I will not become a millionaire as a journalist, but I do know that I can make a difference in giving a voice to causes and people who need to be heard.
Q: What made you decide to become a student national SPJ member?
A: In all honesty, becoming a journalist in these rocky times can be quite horrifying for a college student and their family. I decided to become a student national SPJ member to develop a relationship with journalists just like me who are trying to make sense of everything and who have the drive to make a difference with their words. It is my hope through this membership that I can make lasting friendships and to grow as a journalist.
Q: Why should universities and colleges who have journalism programs have a SPJ student chapter?
A: Networking is key as a journalist. Students who form connections with their fellow journalism classmates, I feel, will benefit and be more prepared for entering the job market. The students will already have a support system and more access to jobs or opportunities through the network they previously formed in college. It is also important to have an SPJ chapter on campus because it provides programs and professional mentoring that educate journalists with tools and skill sets that are not typically taught in class; this will give students an edge when applying for work and getting ahead.
Q: As a senior at Auburn majoring in journalism, what advice would you give freshmen who are seeking the same major?
A: I strongly suggest freshman to get to know each other! Go hang out and brainstorm on story ideas! Get to know your community and go become a part of student media immediately to start building up your portfolio. Get to know your professors and really have an idea of who you want to be as a journalist.
Q: As a SPJ Region 3 intern, what would you like to do this semester to make you more prepared for life after graduation and entering the world of journalism?
A: As SPJ Region 3 intern, I would like to refine and perfect my strengths as a journalist. I would like to become more marketable and to hopefully meet the right people that will point me to my first job, all while having fun and sharing experiences along the way.
Q: What do you see as the biggest issue or lack of training journalism students (who majored in journalism) are facing after graduation?
A: Journalism students are going out into the field without knowing how to write or edit or shoot in all forms of journalism. Many journalism majors do not know where and how to concentrate their scope of writing and where to begin in the job search or building up their network. I feel if journalism majors start networking now, learn how to be a “jack of all trades” and have a good idea of what they want to focus on in their career, then they will make it amongst the stiff competition. Most of all, journalism students need to know from the very beginning before diving into their major about the nitty-gritty and the potential drawbacks that the career has in store for them. I feel that if students know of the risks and intensity of journalism earlier, then they can make a more accurate decision whether this field is for them.
Q: How do you see journalism in the next 5 – 10 years?
A: As an optimist, I see journalism overflowing with eager writers inspired by the want for truth. I feel the field may provide more jobs in the futures as more readers or viewers will tune in search of truth as well. In five years, journalism will be near to almost digital for certain prints (newspapers) and the formatting of broadcast journalism may be restructured (24hr news such as CNN, MSNBC, FOX and others). In 10 years, journalism will be completely digital and people may have to pay for access to get articles and news; this could be a problem, but I guess we will have to cross that bridge when we get there!
Contact Ariel Cochran @Write4ThePeople