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 professional experience.

“Nothing will benefit you more than an internship,” Duncan said. “Get an internship. You need to get practical working experience.”

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 can communicate.”

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.