In just a few months, thousands of college graduates will be putting together demo reels and haunting job posting sites to find that perfect newsroom position. TV journalist Elwyn Lopez says they’ll be searching for work at a good time.
“I’m excited about the future of journalism,” said Lopez. “I think it’s going to get better and better.”
Lopez was most recently an ABC news correspondent based in Atlanta Georgia. She covered the 2020 presidential election from Georgia and the Uvalde mass shootings, along with other major news events throughout the country. She says a big part of being successful in journalism is finding a news station that has a great work environment and culture. She says that might mean that you don’t take the first job you are offered.
“I remember being in college; I just wanted to be at the network and wanted to be wanted,” said Lopez. “And I think that it’s really important at this stage of your lives for you, at any stage of your lives really, for you to say [about a job offer], ‘Okay, is this a good fit for me as well.’”
Along with finding the right culture, taking care of your mental health and finding an appropriate work-life balance is equally as important, says Lopez. She said her career has included reporting a number of stories focused on death and destruction, and for a long time she felt she “could get through them with compassion, but also with determination and grit.”
Then in 2021, she was covering Tennessee flooding where at least 21 people were killed, and the smell of death triggered memories of other tragedies she had reported, such as the 2016 earthquake in Ecuador.
“And all of a sudden, I had to get into the car, my producer’s car and just start crying. And I just felt I was devastated, and I didn’t know how to gain composure again, to be able to finish the story.”
She says she was able to get through the assignment, but she soon learned how to prioritize her mental health while working. She urges other journalists to do what they have to for their own mental health.
“At a time, when you’re just going nonstop, you’ll be doing live shots all day, you’ll be doing news gathering all day, you’ll sleep maybe two to three hours a night, if you’re lucky. And so, to be able to say, ‘No, I need time to eat, I need time to drink some water, and I need time to walk around and take a walk or to go to a coffee shop and spend five minutes there.'”
Lopez says it’s important to find newsroom managers who support you and provide you with the resources you need in the field.
Student reporter Julieanna Jackson asked University of Mississippi alumna Elwyn Lopez what she would tell her college self about working TV news.