Alumni Q&A: An Interview with Tatianna Hemphill

ComArtSci Alumna Tatianna Hemphill, Journalism, B.A., is already taking her career by storm after graduating in 2019. Since May of 2019, Hemphill has worked as a Multimedia Journalist at KJRH News in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During her time at MSU, she worked as a reporter and anchor for Focal Point, covering breaking news. She also served as the president of the MSU Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists during her senior year.

At Michigan State University, we invited her to share her experiences in a Q&A with ComArtSci.

Q. Are you working remotely or providing essential services in 2020?

A. I am working remotely, but I also still do live shots outside in different locations, and I interview people in different locations daily.

Q.  When you look back at your life and work so far, what gives you the most pride?

A. I get the most pride in the stories I tell, and the people I have helped. So many people are wronged in different situations, and after a story I have helped in some way. Sometimes that just in education, or resources, or by simply holding someone accountable like a landlord, or a city councilor.

Q. What inspires you to work toward your goals and accomplishments?

A.  I am inspired by the people I help. I often receive text messages, phone calls, and emails from people seeking help. This motivates me to keep going and reminds me that I am needed in my community.

Q. Could you describe a typical day in your professional life?

AAs a morning reporter, I wake up at 1:20 am to do hair and make-up. My shift starts at 2:00 am, I have a conference call with my Executive Producer, and my morning Producer. We discuss my story for the day and then I write my scripts for the show. After scripts are done, I head to my live shots. I have 8 live shots that morning, I leave a package for OTT, and the 12pm show. I then spend the last few hours of my shift finding a story for the next day.

Q. What are some of the greatest challenges and opportunities working in your field?

A. My greatest challenges are spot or breaking news. As a reporter, my job is to be the expert on every story. Sometimes I only have 30 minutes to an hour to become an expert on a subject I know nothing about. I also sometimes struggle with stories that include lawyer jargon, the indictments, and charges of suspects and stories that include legalities. It can be harder than others because there is no room for mistakes in my market.

Q. What would you consider to be the defining point in your life or career?

A. I just started my career, I am a year and a half in, and I don't believe I have hit the defining moment just yet.

Q. What is the most important lesson you have learned along the way?

A. The most important lesson I have learned is to be prepared. Know as much as you can, and learn how to move fast. Deadlines are real, which means if you're late, that's your job. Stay on your toes, be prepared for anything, and stay buttoned up, know everything about your story like the back of your hand.

Q. What opportunities did you have at MSU or ComArtSci that helped you get where you are today?

A. Attending Michigan State University exposed me to so much about news. There is a lot you learn on the job, and I do feel like I was somewhat prepared, but I learned the most from my internships and other opportunities. So take advantage of the study abroad programs, trips, and internships you can get through the college.

Q. How do you give back to your community or motivate others to work toward the common good?

A. As the former President of the Michigan State University Student Chapters of NABJ, I made sure there was a solid organization left after I graduated. Ensuring that young people can still have a place to learn, grow, and build relationships was so important to me. I still keep in contact with members and mentees to help with whatever they need.

Q. What advice would you give to MSU and ComArtSci students?

A. I advise you to learn everything, try everything, and never say no to a new experience. If you want to produce, try reporting, editing, and other jobs while you're in college. It's important to know the newsroom works as a team and if you know the other jobs well, you work better with your team members. Also, be prepared to work hard, breaks are rare, and time to eat rare as well. The news business is not for the weak; be prepared.

Q. If you could offer a message of comfort or support, what would you say directly to students who are studying at MSU in these uncertain times?

A. I would say keep moving forward, push, and push. If this is not your passion, find what is. Those who are not passionate about this may not enjoy what the job demands. Keep your head up, you will go where you're meant to be. Just keep going.

By Demetria Bias

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