Taste of Home Editor Jeanne Ambrose wants CMU students to know they need to constantly update their skills to be successful in journalism.
“The education process doesn’t stop at graduation if you want to stay on top of your game,” she said. “Be passionate. Be adaptable. Be curious, creative and kind. And, never be afraid to ask any questions.”
Ambrose, a 1976 CMU graduate, visited campus as part of the Hearst Visiting Professionals series in November. She had not been back to campus for about 30 years, so she jumped at the invitation to speak to journalism students.
Her first job after college was for a newspaper in Grand Blanc, Mich., but she decided that wasn’t for her, so she moved to Hawaii. She worked in public relations for a year, but her constant visits to the newspapers in Honolulu helped her get a reporting job in Guam.
“It is really important to be persistent,” Ambrose said. “Keep going back, knocking on doors. Persistence and drive really make a difference.”
Ambrose believes her education at CMU helped her hone her skills in writing, interviewing, editing, and even photography and design.
“But, most of all, it taught me to take those skills and add desire and drive,” she said. “Those are keys to success. I am a dreamer. But, I also am a doer. I take those dreams and figure out how to implement them.”
Students in Teresa Hernandez’s JRN 102 class were preparing story proposals for various media outlets, and Ambrose encouraged them to study whom they are pitching to. She said the idea may be great, but if you don’t study the publication, your proposal will get rejected.
Ambrose believes the same philosophy is true when it comes to the audience for a story. She said to remain objective and keep the readers in mind when reporting.
“You are not the story,” she said. “You are the storyteller.”
She also told students that listening to their sources and using “dramatic pauses” will get people to open up and help tell the story.
“The key is to make sure you make whoever you are talking to comfortable,” she said.
After one and a half years in Guam, Ambrose got a job as the medical health reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. She also has worked for The Grand Rapids Press, Better Homes and Gardens, and she was launch editor for both MasterChef magazine and Heart-Healthy Living magazine. She has worked in the Books Group at Meredith Corp. as health editor of books and cookbooks, and wrote a book, “Heartbreak Recovery Kitchen: Recipes and Remedies for Mending and Moving On,” with her daughter.
She was hired by Taste of Home, the largest-circulation food magazine in the world, to help modernize it. She still freelances, and told students there are many smaller publications out there looking for employees.
“Work hard,” Ambrose said. “Always make sure to keep your options open. Once you make a relationship with someone, never burn bridges.”
She told students to go after their dreams, and she was happy to hear the ways students plan to achieve them.
“Not only do I hope to encourage students to pursue their passions with persistence, but I have been delighted with the feedback from students in some of the classes offering forward-thinking ideas that are crucial to success,” Ambrose said.