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Surrounded by opportunity

According to broadcast journalism major Nic Jones, you could hear a pin drop. The University of South Carolina Men's Basketball team had just lost to Gonzaga in the Final Four and he was covering it as a reporter for Carolina News.

Nic was part of a team of broadcast journalism majors, sent by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, to cover the Men's and Women's Basketball teams as part of their senior capstone experience.

"I was honored to be part of a school that wants their students to have these types of experiences. We covered most of the tournament as a part of our senior semester and so we thought it was important to continue our coverage. Our dean was supportive. He said, 'You're going to have to do a lot of work, but we're going to help get you there.'"

Nic will leave Carolina with extensive sports reporting experience through Capital City Sports, experience producing a daily news program through the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and photography and reporting credentials through his news internship.

Having a campus tucked inside a large city means you'll find plenty of opportunities to have internships that complement your major. With more than 30 Fortune 500 companies and most major industries represented, finding related internship experiences is easy. For Nic, this meant stepping out of television production courses and into a reporting role for WLTX, Columbia, South Carolina's CBS affiliate.

How have you been able to develop the skills you need for your future career?

I wanted to get a head start, so I got involved with SGTV my freshman year. I found out that you could cover basketball and football through Capital City Sports. So I jumped at the chance to cover Gamecock sports.

My goal was to learn how to edit and write news. I also learned how to network with people, which helped me find work at WLTX my sophomore year. Through WLTX, I was able to get experience shooting video for their Friday night high school football coverage. After that, they hired me as an intern and then part-time as a reporter and photographer.

By senior year, I was working in a newsroom every single day. Monday through Friday, I was in class and then working on stories a few nights a week for WLTX. On Saturday and Sunday, I was at work. It was beneficial because I now have experience running audio, writing scripts, using social media and at the desk. You name it and I’ve probably done it!

How has the School of Journalism and Mass Communications prepared you for your career? 

I feel like the journalism school does a great job of just helping people create opportunities to go cover things. Having different people locally who have gone to school here and who work in the news department helps us establish connections in the industry. I know a lot of people who graduated from USC and work [in news stations] now.

My senior semester class has prepared me to work with others in the news room. Of course, there will be confrontations, but we had to learn to treat class as a professional setting. We learned how to work in different situations and use everybody's strengths to the benefit of the show. 

What lessons have you learned and challenges have you faced while gaining this experience?

One of the biggest lessons I learned was timeliness. You have to be able to write, shoot and edit quickly, before your work becomes irrelevant in the news cycle. What used to take me days, I now do under 30 minutes. Over the years, the amount of reps and sports experience will be a huge benefit.

It is also important to have access to technology. I am often asked if I know Adobe Premiere or how to use EMPS, a program used to help produce a show. I feel very confident knowing that I have already used the technology that news stations across the country use.

Script writing has been a challenge. I had more sports experience than news experience. When it comes to news writing, you have to be careful. You don't want to write something that can cause legal issues. You also have to keep viewers' attention with important information. 

Describe your experience covering the Final Four.

I loved every second of covering the Final Four. I knew so many people who wanted to go to the National Championship and we were there covering it. It was amazing to start our coverage in Greenville, South Carolina, and end up in New York City at the world's most famous arena.

We were able to shoot the game and interview the players and coaches. When you are in the locker room, you get to see the energy and the personality of the players. Over the course of our coverage, we got to develop relationships with many of the players. I appreciated that the journalism school wanted us to go and experience it, especially because it was such a historic event for USC.