Name: Mark Saxenmeyer
Job: Special projects reporter at Fox Chicago news (WFLD-TV)
What are your responsibilities? I research, report, write, edit, produce and present long-form newsmagazine-style reports for TV and the Internet. I specialize in enterprise reporting -- stories you don't or won't see anywhere else. They can be soft or hard features or investigations.
What's a typical workday? No day is "typical." Some are spent in the field doing interviews, others spent researching, others spent writing, others spent editing.
What do you like/dislike about the job? I have a great deal of autonomy and I pretty much work in my own world within Fox Chicago; I produce about seven 4-5 minute stories a month and work very hard to make sure they live up to the "special" part of my title.
Background: Born in New Jersey, raised in Minnesota (though I spent third grade in Des Plaines, Illinois, when my stepdad attended a police academy in Evanston), lived in Paraguay and Spain as a foreign exchange student in high school and college, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1989 with a degree in broadcast journalism, worked at TV stations in Madison, Hartford, Sacramento and came to Chicago in 1994 where I've been at Fox ever since. I live in Lincoln Park with my partner Adam. No kids, no pets, no time (or interest)...we hang out and travel a lot.
What are the skills young journalists need today? They need to be able to do EVERYTHING -- meaning they need to write as well as the best print journalists, speak as well as the best radio journalists, perform as well as the best TV journalists, and be able to not only report but shoot video (regardless of whether the bulk of their work is print or radio), edit video, and know computers inside and out -- because the future of all media is online. Everyone will need to dabble in every facet of information dissemination. However, beyond all that, they need to be able to tell a story. The best journalists don't just write, they create stories which effectively and repeatedly hold the attention of readers, listeners and viewers -- and keep them coming back for more
Any advice to aspiring journalists? Plain and simple, you need to be better than everyone else. you need to be persistent and diligent in your pursuit of a job, as well as your pursuit of stories. You need to prove to future bosses that you have that "it" factor --because it's extraordinarily competitive out there, especially with so many seasoned journalists being laid off and competing for the same jobs as the novices. I wish them well, as long as they don't take MY job! :o)