Journalist Dale Duncan told
students at CMU that they may not be at one of the biggest journalism schools
in the country, but that has no bearing on their future successes.
“Focus on getting yourself ready
and you can compete with anyone out there,” Duncan said.
Duncan, a 1976 Department of
Journalism alum, stressed how important it is to take advantage of all the
resources CMU makes available to students.
“Your training here will give you a
leg up,” he said.
Duncan came to campus as part of the Hearst Visiting
Professionals program. He is the former president of MaineToday Media in
Portland, Maine. He also served as publisher for the Indianapolis Star in Indianapolis, Ind., and The Oakland Press in Pontiac, Mich.
He spent three years working for Central Michigan Life and also worked
for CMU Radio, since his minor was in broadcasting.
“What I learned here prepared me
for success,” Duncan said.
He said employers are looking for
people who have the ability to communicate, to make decisions, and who know how
to plan and organize. He also said they are looking for those who have
“Nothing will benefit you more than
an internship,” Duncan said. “Get an internship. You need to get practical
He encouraged students to apply for
a variety of internships and not be picky about which one they accept.
“You are going to find out that you
are as smart, or smarter than anyone in there,” Duncan said.
He said the days of being a
generalist are over, and that most newspapers are looking for someone with
expertise in a specific area, like business or economics.
He also said the future is in
convergence, so students need to maximize their exposure to everything digital.
“Make sure you become good at
telling stories on every platform,” Duncan said.
He stressed the importance of
questioning everything to get the real story. Duncan told students they need to
be skeptical and sift out the truth.
“If your mother tells you she loves
you, check it out,” he said.
The Internet is killing newspapers,
Duncan said. He said there used to be one deadline a day for journalists, but
now there are hourly deadlines.
“There is still a lot of great
journalism out there and it scares me that it might go away,” he said.
Duncan said today’s journalism is
all about “getting the eyeballs,” and sometimes editors get lazy about going
after stories because online sites can get it out first. He said the watchdog
effect is in jeopardy because of these attitudes.
However, he said, there will always
be people out there demanding answers.
“It’s not all gloom and doom,”
Duncan said. “We need people who can explain things to us. We need people who
He said a journalism degree is as valuable as
ever, and told students that the learning does not stop there. He said every
job will teach them something new.
“The thing I wish for you is that
you are all happy doing something that you love to do,” Duncan said.