Obama Gets a Taste of True Journalism

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Obama Gets a Taste of True Journalism

Don Crawford

Don Crawford

Don Crawford

Cathy Pierotti

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KDKA TV’s Andy Sheehan Visits Obama Academy

How is journalism hard and how is it easy? On December 16, 2010 Andy Sheehan,  the investigative reporter at KDKA TV, shared the true colors of what it is really like to be working for a newspaper and television station.

Usually as soon as we hear the word “investigate,” crime scenes, spies, and other enticing stories pop into our heads, but what is investigative reporting really like, and how can it affect you or the main person in the story?

This particular job comes with the requirement of being patient, being unaffected by criticism, having the ability to feel anger about the misfortune of people, and having the courage to help those very people.

Mr.Sheehan discussed those personality traits and the basics about being a reporter. His beliefs are rather simple: “Write. Always write. It’s a skill that will take you places, whether it is in Journalism or someplace else.” His advice to those who want to be investigative reporters was just as simple: “Research the story. Use your sources, and don’t take no for an answer.”

In 1992, Sheehan was working for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette as a reporter/columnist when the city’s newspaper strike put his investigative work on hold…for 8 months. It was a time when the “other” city paper, The Pittsburgh Press folded for good. Given an opportunity to become KDKA’s first investigative reporter during that time, he jumped at the chance.

Mr.Sheehan believes that taking journalism to a deeper level will give people a voice, a voice some people never had. During his time with Obama’s Journalism students, he discussed the process by which he develops stories as well as the result: praise from those who have wrongs righted by his reports, and anger and threats from those who were caught  doing wrong.

Mr.Sheehan took numerous questions during his appearances. Among the most notable:

Regarding the dangers of being an investigative reporter:

Sheehan: Yes, I have done stories on gangs, various types of criminals, and worried about my safety from revealing information. I’ve had threats. I’ve had people get angry.

Regarding the transition from being a newspaper reporter to television news reporter

Sheehan:  Well, this was new to me. But I was willing to learn. Journalism is the format of change so I followed along with it. I changed. I improved. I became comfortable.

Regarding the message of Wiki Leaks

Sheehan: I think you have to question why you are reporting something. What’s the point of the information? I think there are some things you don’t report, because they may do harm.

Regarding advice for those interested in careers in Journalism

Sheehan: If you are interested in Journalism, you are interested in the world. Keep your

mind open for anything.

Usually we write not only for the paper, but for other people and ourselves. This opportunity to see and meet a person in this field has or might have changed students and even teachers and their view of writing and reporting.

It should be noted that Mr.Sheehan began his career by writing for his school paper and then a small local paper.

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