I rode Metro a few stops over to Howard University this afternoon. My friend and former VOA colleague, “Uncle Ted” Roberts, invited me to speak to some of his students in Howard’s School of Communications. Ted is a longtime Howard professor who last year retired from the Voice of America after a long and successful stint as one of VOA’s most popular on-air show hosts.
“Uncle Ted” always encourages his students to ask questions, and one young man — all of the students were born after 1988, when I started at VOA! — asked me about some of the big advancements I’ve witnessed in newsroom technology over the past two decades.
One development I mentioned was filing text and audio by computer. When I began at VOA, a lot of our reporters were still filing their audio over the phone, and in regards to the text of their reports, one of my jobs as an entry level News Assistant – sort of the equivalent of a newspaper copy boy – was to transcribe their recorded audio. Looking back, I learned a lot from those transcription sessions, with reports coming in from all over the world.
The students also asked me about some of my international sports trips. I told them I enjoyed my first trip to South Africa this year for coverage of the first football World Cup on African soil. And on that note, I told the students if they can find a media job they really enjoy, stick with it, because the hours in their work day will go by a lot faster. And I left them with some inspirational words from Hall of Fame boxing trainer Angelo Dundee. When I asked Angelo why he was still training fighters when he could have retired years ago, he responded, “Because I’m still getting kicks.”
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