So You Want to Be a Journalist…

Written By Lisa Bleich

Last month, I attended a talk by Allen Sepinwall, the TV writer for the Star Ledger, and Author of the book TV Revolution,..  It was a fascinating discussion about television dramas and the evolution of the anti-hero, starting with Tony Soprano and he had been gainfully employed as a writer throughout this time.  The final question of the evening: “Allen, how did you get started in this field?”  And that, to me was the most fascinating part.

He described how as a student at the University of Pennsylvania in the early nineties, he spent most of his time writing for the Daily Pennsylvania, but even more importantly, he was part of a list serve about the TV show NYPD Blues. One week, someone missed the episode (pre-DVRs, HULU, and the like) and asked what happened.  Allen expertly summarized the episode; others commented on how great it was and asked him if he could do it again the following week.

Before he knew it, he was writing a weekly summary and analysis of the show and a TV writer was born.  When he applied for a position at the NJ Star Ledger, rather than enclosing newspaper clippings, he included print-outs of his weekly episode run-downs and they hired him on the spot.  He got a lucky break when the current TV writer could not attend the Emmy’s.  His editor said, “Hey, Allen, you write about TV, go and cover the Emmy’s.” Within a few months, the current TV writer icon retired and guess who filled his shoes?  And the rest is history.

So if you want to be a journalist, then write.  Write for you paper, start a blog, write about what you love, write so others can read. But do it in a thoughtful, intelligent way and have faith that you can still make a living as a writer!

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