CBS’s Dick Brennan gives colloquial perspective of being a journalist

Dick Brennan CBS Reporter visits a Hofstra Univeristy classroom to talk to prospective journalism students.

photo credit: Christal Roberts

Advice from Brennan:

“Don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications if you don’t know a story.”

“Always come prepared with camera and questions.”

“Make dumb connections. The business of ‘why not me’ is not relevant.”

“Half of life is just showing up.”

“Triple check everything. Two things: read out loud and read backwards. Check every dumb little fact.”

Students ask questions: 12:11pm-12:32pm

Q. “Number one piece of advice to students?” A. “Internships, internships, and internships. Dress better, remember names, and know who people are.”

Q. “What kind of stories did they put you on first before you broke out?” A. “The first three stories I covered were  Victoria Secret runways.”

Q. “What is something you wish someone would have told you about the field when you were our age?” A. “I don’t have this connection or that equipment etc. I wish someone would have told me it doesn’t matter.” 

Q. “What was your first internship?” A. “It was at WMCA radio station. It was the best job I’ve ever had.”

Q. What is the hardest part of broadcasting now? A. “The deadlines are tighter. More shows to be on. Expected to broadcast more.”

“Sometimes the best social media is just remembering a name.” Brennan refers to integration with social media as “invaluable” to the journalism field 12:09 pm.

“You want great journalism? Knock on one more door.” Brennan emphasizes the need for aggressive journalism to produce a good story. “Grab the story by the lapels and drag it by you” 12:05 pm.

Journalists have to handle tough stories. Brennan shows video of his coverage of LIPA’s failed restoration after Sandy as well as their no-show press conference 12:02 am.

Which elements are the most important to a news story? Brennan says it changes with every story. Sometimes it’s better to start with audio; other times the picture is the most important part 11:49 am.

“All people care about it story, story, story. They don’t care about the budget, they want a story.” A strong focus of a news story is the writing of it. Deadlines are now so you must think of what you want your story to be as you film the story 11: 44 am.

Brennan describes the ins and outs of creating a successful news package. “The hardest part of a piece is the beginning and the end. You need something powerful or humorous to keep you interested until the end.” Shows news package of Hurricane Sandy where he focused on a small child that had no heat or water in her apartment 11:40 am.

Conversation makes a switches to politics. Brennan uses media coverage of the debate to exemplify how every word and action of those in the public’s eye is under scrutiny 11:33 am.

Uses his interview with Denzel Washington to show how tough questions can render harsh remarks. “My job is to tell the story in a way that people can understand. I’m not partisan. I just want to challenge them and see what they say” 11:27 am.

Brennan talks about his experiences as a reporter. Shows his interview with Michael Moore and what happens behind the aired interview 11:21 am.

“I get a a minute and thirty normally. So having an hour and half to speak to you is crazy.” Reporter Dick Brennan introduces himself to Hofstra University students 11:18 am.


Hofstra University: A haven from Hurricane Sandy

Photo Credit: Long Island Report

It is a terrible feeling to know a disaster is happening around you and you can do nothing to stop it. It is an even worse feeling to watch that disaster transpire from your window. That is how I felt during the devastation of Hurricane Sandy that hit the East Coast last week. As I sat in the comfort of  my dorm located on Long Island, New York my heart ached knowing that others just outside of my school’s boundaries were struggling for their lives.

Hofstra University was like a giant safety bubble amidst an island of destruction. Ninety percent of homes and businesses on Long Island lost power during the storm. LIPA, the Long Island Power Authority, predicted it would take up to 10 days for power to be restored. Hofstra had my power back within the hour of it being lost and even my wi-fi was back up a short time after.

I was concerned the rain that might seep through my windows due to the winds that reached 80 miles per hour. In retrospect, almost every house outside of campus faced water damage. Fifteen houses were reported as having been completely swept out to sea and over 100 were destroyed from fire.

I’ve never felt so helpless being in my protective haven on the same island where others were battling flooding, electrical fires, and falling trees. It felt like Hurricane Sandy was New York’s Hurricane Katrina. Fifty-five were reported dead after the storm hit, four of which died on Long Island. It’s numbing to think that if I had been just a few miles away that could have been me.

The concerns I overheard from fellow classmates or read on their social media streams proved to me how disconnected Hofstra was from the effects of the storm. Many complained about their boredom because Hofstra officials asked them to remain in their dorms. Others voiced disappointment at the lack of entertainment they thought the storm would provide. I even found myself starting to complain, but quickly stopped when I realized how many others were questioning when they might have a warm bed to sleep in.

Hurricane Sandy may not have destroyed my home, but the impact it left on my campus and my school “family” was hard to endure. As Hofstra finished the clean up, classes will once again resume and the storm will become a sad memory. But for many on Long Island outside of Hofstra’s gates, the storm is more than a memory; it’s a forced new beginning. Whether some must find a new home to live in, a new car to drive, or a new way to cope with the loss of a loved one, their lives will forever be changed.