Professional Interview: Journalism with Justine Griffin

Unravel01I had the pleasure to interview a friend of mine via e-mail for this project, Justine Griffin, who wears multiple hats in her professional field of journalism! Not only is she the Editor of an online magazine called Unravel, but she also juggles working for Herald Tribune Media Group, a digital and print news organization owned by Gatehouse Media as a projects editor and projects team manager. The Herald Tribune serves as a market to just about 95,000 people in Southwest Florida! Griffin happened to mention that right now is a particularly crazy time for her at work because it will be her last week working for Herald Tribune, and as of next week she will be working as a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times newspaper. Talk about a busy schedule!

I met Griffin online on a writing site years ago and we’ve kept in touch ever since. She currently lives in Florida and travels all around the country interviewing people for stories, as well as speaking at country-wide conferences about social media and how it is an important reporting tool in the industry. Ever since graduating from the University of Central Florida she’s been working for media related companies.

Even though I work in a traditional “news” setting, we have many visual arts on staff that design our online projects and print editions. We also hire videographers and photographers who shoot documentary-style video stories,” Griffin explains.

She also meets with several advertisers and brainstorms every day with her team about what topics they want to cover. Sounds pretty cool, right? Griffin thinks so too! The social aspect of her job seems to be the most rewarding for her. “I love that every day is different. Sometimes I’m traveling across the country to meet new people for stories. I talk to so many different people, most have very inspiring stories.” As much as she loves it, Griffin also takes a moment to explain why this field might not be for everyone. “The pay isn’t great and the industry isn’t always stable. As the news business transitions to online from broadcast and print, I’ve experienced layoffs in many of the newsrooms I’ve worked for. Also, the hours aren’t always great. We work most holidays. It takes an aggressive person who is really passionate about what they do to work in journalism.”

So what does it take to become a professional in this industry? How do you get to become an editor of your own online magazine? It’s all about who you know, not necessarily about where you come from. “Journalism is a little different in that you don’t need to come from a traditional background to find a job in this field. Creative, driven people with leadership qualities tend to do the best. A lot of the writers I would with have a variety of backgrounds. Some of the business reporters have finance and economics degrees. Others have visual arts, English, or liberal arts degrees.”  Griffin also explained how important it was to have experience. Freelancing is great and so are college internships. They help open doors before you get hired at a media company full time! So what’s the next step after that? Your portfolio!

Griffin was nice enough to explain the portfolio process and talks about how using media is important in getting yourself out there. “Your previous work is more important that your resume. You can share video and on-air pieces through services like Vimeo and Youtube. My portfolio showcases my written work, editing work and video work that way.” She was kind enough to show me her portfolio and it is impressive! No wonder Griffin works so many places; they would be silly not to want her on their team!

I thanked Griffin for her time and asked if she had any last pieces of advice for anyone interested in pursuing this field.

“Do what you love! And don’t be afraid to try new things.”

Thanks Justine, we’ll try!

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