Excellence in Journalism 2017 | Anaheim

Chen offers personal anecdotes, guidance to young journalists

By The EIJ News

MELANIE HICKEN / The Working Press

Joie Chen told it like it is in the world of journalism.

Joie Chen of CBS News speaks at the SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards Luncheon sponsored by the Kiplinger Washington Editors and McClatchy Co. "With your revolution of our industry, how am I supposed to offer you advice?" Chen asked the crowd. (Photo by Dave Stone/The Working Press)

Joie Chen of CBS News speaks at the SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards Luncheon sponsored by the Kiplinger Washington Editors and McClatchy Co. "With your revolution of our industry, how am I supposed to offer you advice?" Chen asked the crowd. (Photo by Dave Stone/The Working Press)

“This business is great until you get fired,” Chen, a CBS News Washington correspondent, said Friday at the Mark of Excellence awards luncheon where she was the keynote speaker.

The broadcast journalist delivered an honest portrayal of the industry to the many aspiring young journalists in the room. She touched on such realities as newsroom discrimination, article bias and working with difficult people.

Chen was dismissed as an Atlanta-based anchor for CNN in 2001, according to an article on the Asian American Journalists Association Web site.

The Capitol Hill reporter spoke in an informal, frank tone, often drawing laughter from the crowd as well as nods of agreement from the professional journalists in the room. She interspersed personal stories from her career with advice to student journalists. For example, she said she once worked with a broadcast editor who didn’t know which way to insert a tape deck.

Discrimination— ageism, sexism and racism— is still a reality in newsrooms, Chen said. She shared several of her experiences as an Asian American in the industry, such as how her first story as a college newspaper intern was all about rice and having to cover Pearl Harbor day while at a South Carolina television station.

Chen commended the efforts of journalism schools in teaching the fundamentals, but warned those students who think they would acquire all the skills they need from class alone.

“You can’t learn what you need to know to succeed in this business in J-school,” she said.

Rather, she cited two skills that must be learned on the job: working with people who can be aggravating and building relationships with colleagues and sources.

She also emphasized digging beyond the surface when reporting, and not settling for easy answers. “The obvious truth is sometimes not particularly obvious,” she said.

Chen complimented the award winners on helping to revolutionize the industry.

“In a way, it’s kind of intimidating for somebody like me to be talking to you,” she said. “After all, a lot of you are already engaged in learning to tell stories in a way that some of us old luddites haven’t even contemplated yet.”

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  • rgoulter

    Thanks for skewing my YouTube “Recommended for You” videos. 🙂

    “Blows everything else I’ve seen out of the water easily in actually journalizing” for the “Games for Learning Summit” is accurate.
    My impression is the other four can’t resist some level of editorializing nearer the ends of their videos. Which makes for nice opinions, but maybe not a nice report.

    I found “Blood is Compulsory”‘s remarks very interesting; highlighting a glaring disparity between the way everyone thinks about Call of Duty (“who cares about the single player?”), and the acceptance of the review system for this (“single player is alright”).

    Sterling’s “Editing vs Censorship” had some interesting remarks (and sound like an interesting thing to discuss), but his contempt bleeds through more evidently than just reporting on “these cases weren’t instances of censorship”.

  • These are a lot higher quality than the videos in the “news video” category. I agree with the judge commenting on the Games for Learning 2015 video. Journalists go into the field and conduct interviews, and this one did the work. Most of the other stuff (in this category) is good vlogging, but I’d like to see more quotes and interviews. This is the difference between journalism that grew out of traditional media, and media that came from home-produced youtube clips and blogging. Traditional journalism wins hands down in that respect.

    I do like the one entitled Editing Versus Censorship though. He makes a compelling point that many people in pop culture fandoms seem to miss.

  • I do have to comment on the one entitled Dangerous Analysis, though. Statements like “(X happened) prompting the question …” are generally a red flag to me that I’m not watching investigative journalism, but a one-sided opinion piece. It’s the close cousin of “many people are saying”.

    EDIT: I just watched it again. Is it a rule of the Kunkel Awards that at least one elaborate conspiracy theory video or article be included in each category?

  • To any judge who happens to be reading these comments: My excitable friend seems to be correct that the word “con” wasn’t used in the video. Of course “Ponzi scheme” in the video and “fraud” in the title sound SO much better 🙂

    • Aidey

      Keeping the insults up I see. Very classy. Not sure why you didn’t just reply to my comment though.

      Still pushing the whole Ponzi scheme and fraud thing? One is hyperbole not an accusation and the other is a single image that says “seems a little like” so again not an accusation.

      The narration is all fact based and well sourced, not opinion which you did claim (wrongly like most of your claims) which is why its up for this award.

      I will admit I do get a bit excitable being right so often. You should try it some time.