Alumna Niyah Gonzalez is a recent graduate from Northeastern’s Master of Arts in Journalism program. She is a News Reporter at Hearst Television/KETV NewsWatch7 in Omaha, Nebraska, where she covers just about anything. Her role is fast-paced, creative, and exciting – and allows her to interact with incredibly interesting people and grow her skillset immensely. Luckily, she was prepared for the role due to her experience as a News Writer at WHDH while back in Boston, as well as some of her coursework at Northeastern. We recently caught up with her to hear about her new role, and life after graduation. Check it out!
Tell us about your role as News Reporter at Hearst Television / KETV NewsWatch7.
I cover any and everything. I have been to house fires, Special Olympics basketball, news conferences, EVERYTHING. I’m a general news reporter right now. At this point in my career, I’m really just trying to perfect my reporting skills like being more confident in front of the camera, thinking about how my story will develop while I’m in the field and just getting all that down. Also, court reporting and knowing who to talk to and building my sources is another big thing I am working on. Once I have that down, I feel like I can start focusing on the other skills, like reporting on stories I’m really interested in. Moving to a new city is an added challenge because I have learn who is who and what issues are specific to this city.
What does a “typical” day look like for you as a News Reporter?
I work Monday through Friday, 9:15 a.m. – 6:15 p.m. It took some getting used to, because I had a very different schedule back in Boston, working super early mornings at 3 a.m. on weekends and some week days. But I love my new schedule! When I go in, we have our story meeting and the reporters are assigned a story and a photographer. We get right to work, we go out get our interviews, get our b-roll, we go back to the station, and I log my sound and put my package together. A producer or executive producer looks at it and makes changes if it needs it, I track the story, the photographer puts it together and then my story runs in either the 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. show – or sometimes both. If I have a live shot, I’ll have to go to the location and get ready for it, but that’s what a typical day is like. Of course, I haven’t had one day that’s the exact same as a previous day; every single day is something new.
What do you love about your job?
I really love that every single day is something new. I couldn’t sit at a desk for 8 hours logging data or answering phones. I love that I can go out, talk to people, make connections, write different stories and be creative. I’m really lucky to have landed a job at KETV because everyone here is just so talented and I learn something from someone everyday whether it be with my writing or tracking a package. I look back at some of my old content I created when I first started, and I can tell the progress I’ve made. I can’t wait to see where I am in the next year or two.
Why did you want to go into this field?
I’ve always wanted to have a career in journalism, but it wasn’t until college that I actually figured out what I liked, what I was good at, what I cared about, and what kinds of things I can actually do. My mom always had WDAF-Fox4News playing in the morning while we were getting ready for school for as long as I can remember, so local news has always been a part of my life. In high school, I wrote for our school newspaper and was involved with photography. In college I was involved with HerCampus and DenisonSportsNetwork. At one point I even had my own YouTube channel and that’s when I started doing stuff in front of the camera and putting it out there. I’d do makeup tutorials or skincare videos, more entertainment based videos.
At Northeastern, that was my first taste of doing anything regarding news and being in a newsroom. After that, I was hooked. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do and my interests grew. While it is fun doing makeup or skincare videos, I also love telling meaningful stories that could change someone’s life or help a community of people. This is what I’m called to do for sure, I have no doubt that this is my purpose in life.
One of my favorite stories is about Inky Johnson. He’s an ex-football player who was on the way to going pro before suffering a severe injury that left him paralyzed on his right arm. He travels everywhere sharing his story and giving people hope, inspiring them. It was an amazing experience covering his speech while he was in Omaha.
How did your role back here in Boston at WHDH or at Northeastern prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Mike Beaudet, a professor at Northeastern, is the reason I am where I am. He really took me under his wing and helped me with everything from getting my demo reel together to helping me land my first job. I’ll still connect with him from time to time and ask him for advice or help with things. My role at WHDH, just being in a newsroom and working with reporters, getting their feedback, being able to practice reading from the teleprompter, doing anchor reads, that all helped me.
I don’t think anything can really prepare you for being in a newsroom except for being in a newsroom. I turn stories every single day, I have to have story ideas on a daily basis, sometimes you might have to go to a scene where someone died and you have to interview their family, that can be really tough. You don’t get that experience in school but my schooling and WHDH was great experience and it prepared me in some ways for my job.
Any advice for current students?
If I had advice for students, it would be connections matter. Don’t be afraid to use social media to your advantage and reach out to people who are doing what you want to do. Meredith Gorman is a Northeastern graduate and I reached out to her via Instagram for some advice. She was so helpful, she watched my demo reel, and gave me some feedback. I still talk to her from time to time. I did the same thing with WHDH’s sports reporter, Chelsi McDonald. She met with me for lunch a few times and also gave me good advice about where to look for jobs, how I might break into sports if that’s what I wanted to do. She let me go with her on an assignment too just to see what she does. I still talk to her and I would say she’s someone I look up to very much. She’s just such a pro at what she does and not only that, she’s an extremely kind person. I always text her for advice on everything and she always knows exactly what to say. Boston is the perfect place to make connections and meet people who could potentially help you. And when you are in a position where you’re the one getting messaged by someone who looks up to you, return the favor!
Northeastern’s journalism program is unlike any other. I’m so glad I chose Northeastern because they don’t just teach one thing. I learned how to edit, shoot video, put stories together (long form and short form), put a digital website together and code it, design magazines, do podcasts and edit sound, and just be a great reporter.
I left Northeastern with a whole set of skills and I feel like with the samples I had from my coursework, I could’ve gotten a job in many different areas of journalism. That’s just what Northeastern does for its students.