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Brian Wilson – Night Breaking News Reporter, The Tennessean

Every hopeful college graduate takes a leap of faith into the job market in an attempt for the golden ticket – an entry level job in their field of study. In an age of dynamic changes in media and unpaid internships, a full-time position in the newsroom at an established paper is hard to come by. Armed with his degree, ambition, and a spot in a prestigious fellowship, Brian Wilson, the newly appointed night breaking news reporter at The Tennessean, made it happen.

Before landing his position at the publication in August 2013, Wilson was awarded one of ten spots nationally in the Pulliam Fellowship at The Indianapolis Star. While in this program, Wilson had the opportunity to write for the daily and participate in writing workshops and guest lectures. He had worked on a part-time basis for The Tennessean while at Belmont University earning his journalism degree.

“Being around a community of fellow graduates who are so passionate and committed to the industry was eye-opening and reassuring,” Wilson said.

The program was a great opportunity to both connect with peers entering the workforce, and meet established journalists. “I made some great contacts there, and hope to keep them in the future.”

After the fellowship, Wilson joined The Tennessean full-time and returned to his home state of Tennessee.

“It’s a great opportunity to be in a city this vibrant starting off. Nashville is a unique city because of the music, tourism and regional traits which give the city personality. I like being in the city and market of this size frankly,” he said.

At Belmont University in Nashville, Wilson ran the student newspaper while he was a full-time student and worked at The Tennessean part-time. This heavy workload helped him to cultivate the work ethic needed to keep up in the fast paced breaking news newsroom.

As far as his day to day responsibilities go, Wilson finds covering breaking news to be exhilarating. “It is a little nerve-racking at times, but while hot on a story, you just can’t beat it.”

“With a breaking news position, you always have to be ready and in the moment. Even now, I’ve got one ear on the scanner.”

The urgency and instant news cycle that exists today isn’t lost on Wilson as he utilizes social media. “It’s not so much the use of social media anymore, especially with younger reporters – it’s how social media is being used.”

“Before I write the story, I tweet it, complete the write through and put the link up. A lot of journalists are utilizing visual social media like Vine and Instagram to supplement,” he said.

As Wilson settles into his spot among the roster of talented journalists, he doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon. “I would like to learn to improve my reaction and response, and build rapport with sources and other folks I communicate with,” he said. “I would like to feel a little more stabilization with time, but it’s only been about a month.”

He also said that eventually down the line, he would like to specialize in a particular beat or beats citing his work covering education and government in the past. However, he recognizes that this growth will happen as he gains experience and uncovers the stories he finds the most interesting.

For now though, Wilson has found a spot that suits him. “I appreciate breaking news; coming into the room every afternoon not knowing what the day will hold.”

Pitching Tips

When pitching Wilson, make sure to be specific. “The best story pitches I receive are always concise and straightforward,” he said.

Also, it helps to give a reason as to why the pitch is important to cover. “Time isn’t always something I have a lot of, so people who can tell me why I should cover an event or schedule an interview in a short email or call typically get more attention.”

Wilson is available on Twitter at @brianwilson17.

About Laura Botham

Laura Botham writes features covering the movers and shakers in the media industry, daily updates, and Top 10 lists. She is a media researcher at Cision, specializing in Internet media. She is a freelance artist, enjoys traveling, the mountains, and can always make time for a cute animal video.

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