NJIT's Career Development Services sponsored the Careers in Media panel discussion on April 2, 2014. From left to right: Marian Porges, Bess Levin and Jim Kressler.
How does a new grad kick-start a career in the fast-paced world of news media? Experts representing three different facets of the field—television, financial blogs and radio—shared their fascinating career trajectories and valuable job-seeking tips with NJIT students at the Careers in Media event on April 4, 2014. Sponsored by NJIT’s Career Development Services, the event featured panelists Marian Porges, Senior Director of NBC News Standards and Practices; Bess Levin, Executive Editor of Dealbreaker.com, and Jim Kressler, Assistant to the President and Chief Executive Officer of WBGO-FM in Newark. Jane Gaertner, Associate Director of Employer Relations at NJIT, served as moderator for the discussion.
Internships Are Key
“In this business, internships are key,” said Marian Porges, who received an Emmy Award for her coverage of all events surrounding the funeral of former President Ronald Reagan. “The fact that you’re here is already a good start.”
By the time she was five years old, Porges knew what she wanted to do. Her career in television news began before she graduated from Tufts University; in the fall of 1980, she took a semester off to work at ABC News at a time when many significant news stories were taking place, including the Iranian hostage crisis and the presidential election. After graduating with her degree in political science, Porges was hired at ABC, where she quickly worked her way up from a production associate position to the Coordinating Producer at ABC Weekend News. While at ABC, she also worked for the Special Events unit, covering breaking news, political year coverage and stories including the aftermath of the first World Trade Center bombing. In 1995 Porges moved to NBC News, where she first served as a producer at the NBC Specials unit covering stories including presidential elections, the Challenger and Columbia disasters, Hurricane Katrina and the Olympics.
Porges was promoted to Senior Producer in 2005, a role she held until 2008 when she became the director of a journalism program created by NBC with the New York Film Academy. This program trained students from around the world to become digital journalists, with an emphasis on journalism fundamentals and ethics. In 2010, Porges became Senior Producer at News Standards and Practices; in this role, she is responsible for dealing with accuracy, fairness and ethics for NBC News.
Porges emphasized the importance of acquiring knowledge in both editorial and technical areas, particularly as today’s media professionals are now expected to be able to both write their stories as well as use video editing technology.
“You won’t be looked at as a candidate unless you have those skills,” Porges said.
Jim Kressler, who began his career as a Music Research Manager with ABC Radio’s flagship FM station, WPLJ Radio, in New York, concurs.
“When you are going into the radio part of the world, you need to know the technical side to give you a leg up on everyone else,” Kressler said.
For over 20 years, Kressler has developed music programming in country, pop, classic hits beginning with Music Choice, where he partnered with WXPN Radio in Philadelphia, producer of the award-winning “Kids Corner,” to launch “For Kids Only,” the first 24-hour music channel aimed at the pre-teen audience. He went on to serve as a member of the founding programming team at Sirius-XM, where he developed the country music platform including exclusive content agreements with Randy Travis and The Station Inn, Nashville’s destination for Bluegrass. Later, he programmed for DMI Music & Media Networks, designing exclusive content for Build-A-Bear Workshops, Kohl’s, McDonald’s, Delta Air Lines and Air Force One. He has an M.A. in Communication Arts from Montclair State University and is a past panelist at Nashville Music Leadership.
Landing Your First Job
As Executive Editor of Dealbreaker.com, a website that offers original commentary, news and entertainment on the personalities and culture that shape the financial industry, Bess Levin contributes 15-20 stories each week and edits additional content that appears on the site. A graduate of Amherst College, Levin launched her career at Dealbreaker in September 2006 as a junior editor. She also occasionally freelances for a wide range of publications including Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The New York Times Magazine, New York, the New York Observer, Elle, Glamour, and Marie Claire.
To those seeking a similar career, Levin suggests checking the numerous websites and blogs that may have opportunities for interns, particularly the larger ones such as The Huffington Post.
“I would definitely encourage you that if there is subject matter you’re interested in, just go on the website and e-mail someone,” said Levin. “People are pretty open because they need content.”
When it comes to making your resume stand out from the crowd, the panelists all agreed that job-seekers must use a proactive, targeted approach and do their research.
“Find out who your resume is going to,” said Kressler, who also advised taking advantage of LinkedIn’s keyword features.
In addition, Porges stressed the importance of patience when applying to a large company.
“If you get an interview, go,” she said. “Because each time you go, you learn something—even if it makes you more confident.”