JOURNALISM/NEWS SERIES – This month’s spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni who are not only in the business of reporting the facts and interpreting events, they’re also charged with presenting information and stories for the public to enjoy. We’re profiling alumni working in Journalism and/or News media.
Brandon Lewis (THF ‘15)
Please describe your role.
I am a multimedia journalist at Spectrum News Buffalo in Buffalo, NY. Spectrum News Buffalo is a 24-hour cable station that runs news all day. Multimedia journalists are basically one-man band reporters. We look for stories each day, pitch them to our boss, set up times and locations to shoot the story, shoot video and interviews, write and edit the story, and then present them live on air or record segments for newscasts.
What do you enjoy most about your company?
What I enjoy most about Spectrum News is that we’re always on the air. No matter what time of the day that news breaks, we can always get it on the air as soon as possible.
In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
I’ve always loved to write and show my creativity. I get to do that as a reporter everyday by editing video and creating scripts. I got started back in high school when I was on the school newspaper and then in college I interned at TV stations in NYC, Boston, and Australia. In college, I made a reel featuring some of my work and sent the reel to dozens of stations across the country until I landed my first job in a small town in West Virginia. The route I decided to take was to get my feet wet in smaller television markets and then slowly make my way up to larger markets.
How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?
My affiliation with T. Howard has allowed me to connect with a diverse group of young professionals like myself and add to my growing professional network. Being around ambitious people only makes me want to push harder and advance my career.
What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?
Tenacity and persistence are some of the attributes that have been essential to my success. Reporting is hard work. Every day is an absolute grind. You’re always trying to track down people, verify your information, put together your story while on a deadline, and also find stories for the future. You have no choice but to be persistent and push through each day. I think being willing to learn from my mistakes and always wanting to improve have helped me grow professionally.
If you were entering this career today, how would you prepare to facilitate entry?
If I were entering my career today, I would try to kickstart my career by networking. I would reach out to all the connections I made through internships, college, and the T. Howard Foundation in hopes of landing of my first job. The industry is competitive so if someone can vouch for you when you’re applying for a job or help get your foot in the door, that can make all the difference.
Do you perform your work in a cubicle, office or open workspace? Please describe what’s on your desk at this moment.
I work in a newsroom with a couple studios. In my section of the newsroom, I sit next to several reporters and digital producers. Working in news is all about being a part of a team so being next to other reporters and producers is ideal. On my desk right now, I have hand sanitizer, pens, post-it notes, and business cards from people I interviewed in the past.
Are you an early bird or a night owl? How does this show up in your working habits?
I’m a night owl. I do not like waking up early, so my current work schedule is suitable. I work from 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. so I get to sleep in a little and show up to work in the afternoon. I don’t think being a night owl really impacts my working habits. I like working evenings because I have time in the morning to make calls on stories before I get in later in the day.
Is your work style more structured or organic?
My work style is both structured and organic. Each day, there is a structure in the sense that it starts off with a story meeting where all the reporters and producers talk about potential stories for the day. Then I go out to shoot my stories, conduct interviews, edit the stories, and present them to our viewers. My work is also organic because no day is alike. I cover different stories each day. Sometimes I work alone, other days I’ll work with a photographer who will shoot and edit my stories for me. Sometimes I’ll put together shorter stories and other times I’ll have longer pieces.