In Terry Dalton’s Intro to Journalism class, two guest speakers greeted students during the first half of the semester. Pete O’Neil from ABC2News and Chris Landers from The Baltimore City Paper came in and gave students the push and inspiration they needed to continue their studies in journalism.
Both guest speakers answered many questions about their careers and were truthful and honest about how hard this particular career can be.
Pete O’Neil or “Pete on the Street” as he is nicknamed, is a news photographer and video editor at ABC2News O’Neil works in shifts and rides around in a marked car in Baltimore City at night, listening to multiple police scanners to find good leads for stories. Pete covers all stories such as homicides, house fires, car accidents and shootings.
Amazingly enough he travels alone with no security or bulletproof vest protecting him from would-be attackers. However, when O’Neil’s mother was attacked and was fatally injured in a robbery, Pete learned a valuable lesson: “Appreciate the people in your life because one day they could be the ones in the news.”
Chris Landers has quite a different job form Pete. He is an off-beat writer for an off-beat paper, The Baltimore City Paper. Most of Landers’ stories are based on peculiar individuals like Gordon Scott, the iconic Tarzan actor of the 50’s, or David Tebera, the only willing free diver of the Baltimore Harbor.
But Landers also has a knack for carrying out serious stories as well such as The Boogeyman of Roland Park. This story was based on the fine line between ones right for protection and ones right of free will.
He comments that he enjoys the “research and the passion these outsiders have for their strange hobbies,” and that he enjoys “seeing their face light up” when talking about them. His job: make you as excited as they are about their odd interests. Mission accomplished.
Both guest speakers were sincere when talking about their prospective jobs. They listed the challenges, like hard hours, and difficult story leads and ideas; but overall concluded that the pro’s are bigger than the con’s. Pete O’Neil taught the class that nothing should break you off from what you want to do, while Landers’ taught the class that you can write about what inspires and interests you and still have a successful career.
During these times of “down-sizing” it’s refreshing and encouraging to hear positive feedback and support from someone who has been in these students shoes. Hearing that it is still possible to peruse this, as a career is exactly what journalism students needed to hear.