Rising Star Q&A: Jazmin Bailey

Jazmin Bailey graduated from ComArtSci in 2011 with a degree in journalism and received the ComArtSci Alumni Board’s Rising Star Award in 2020. Bailey has enjoyed success working with WILX in Lansing, Gray Television in Virginia and Hearst Television in Florida. Bailey is currently an anchor and reporter for Fox 8 News in Cleveland, Ohio.

What was your favorite class at ComArtSci?

Radio Journalism. It was just cool. We did these stories where it was only audio. So you had to get really creative with how you pieced things together, and that was really exciting.

What was your favorite study spot on campus?

Probably the Hubbard Hall study rooms. I was always in there. Now that I am thinking about it, my first year, that was my favorite spot. I was a mentor in the dorms, so I moved from Hubbard to Shaw to Akers to Holden. So, if I had to pick one overall, it would've been the library.

What was your favorite thing to do around East Lansing? 

MSU football provided a lot of my fun. I worked for the football office for two years. I worked in recruiting, so I took in the football players and showed their families around campus. We learned how to be Spartan ambassadors so that we could give tours.  

What’s your favorite MSU Memory? 

So when I was working with recruiting, I was on the 50-yard line for the Notre Dame "Little Giants" fake field goal game where MSU won in overtime. It was a night game, and it was cold, but who cares. I remember the recruit that was with us was from Georgia, and he had never seen snow before. He was just completely confused but also amazed, and I think that night helped solidify his coming to MSU.

So, you earned your degree in journalism at ComArtSci, can you speak about how things have evolved in your industry since you graduated and where you foresee things going from here? 

They evolved a lot. We were taught applicable things at the time, but I have seen things change so much over the last decade. When I started at WILX, they had just started automating things. It was kind of like you better pick it up, or you'll get left behind, and now that's how everything works in newsrooms. Our station here in Cleveland doesn't have camera operators, but when I was anchoring in Orlando, we did have operators. So you learn and adapt to technology. But that's not how it was 40 years ago, and there are so many other ways where things have been automated and have changed.

One good thing about the pandemic, if there is a good thing, is that it opened up access to communicating with many different people that we may be able to get a story from. I recently was working on a piece about love for the month of February and Valentine's Day, and I was able to connect with spokespeople for Hinge, Bumble, and several other dating apps. You can't do that necessarily when you have these boundaries of traveling to conduct interviews. We conduct business differently, but it's still about telling good stories.

What was your biggest lesson learned during your time at ComArtSci? And what was your biggest lesson after ComArtSci?

I learned that it's not easy. We watched a YouTube series in our broadcast classes about small-market TV stations, and Bob Gould told us, "I really want you guys to know what this is going to feel like." Equipment is going to break down, the resources may not be there, and your live shot may tap out. Everything that could go wrong will go wrong, and it was true. So true.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking about my first position in Virginia. There were a lot of tears and not a lot of money. One time my parents came down, and I had no food in my refrigerator, and they asked, "what is this?" I survived on Wendy's because I was just so busy and didn't have time to go to the grocery store.

By the time I got to Orlando, I had explained to my former boss that I would be producing the morning show [in Virginia] while also anchoring, and he was like, "What!?" I think it proved to him like, okay if she can do that, I think she can handle covering traffic and putting together graphics for us. So once I settled into Orlando, I thought to myself that I went through all of that for something. It taught me how to continue and persist despite difficulties and challenges.

Fast forward to the end of your career. It's your retirement party, and everyone is there celebrating your achievements. What do you hope people say about you?

Number one, I hope people say, “Man, she was an amazing person." News is so difficult. Sometimes you are covering fun and hilarious things, but then some days, aren't like that. I think the last two years have been that way. There's been a lot of tragedy, sorrow, and sadness, and there's no escaping it. I hope people say that “we went through some tough times together, but Jazmin was always a light, and every time I saw her, I felt like we could make it through this."

To those students who are confused, overwhelmed, not sure what they want to do, unsure about what a degree from ComArtSci can do for them, what would your message be to them? 

On the one hand, I understand the frustration and confusion because look at the world right now. If you feel that way, allow yourself to feel that way because it is warranted. But at the same time, it’s only true if you allow yourself to see it as a fact that cannot be changed. I think that right now, we are seeing so many opportunities open up. It's really such a great degree to have because you can use it to do so many different things. That's what I say to people that are like, "Where do I go? What do I do?" It's like, you can do anything!

By Joe Strother