Stef Manchen, MMJ at News-Press NOW
I graduated from the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications in the spring of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism on the news and information track. I am from the Chicago suburbs and always was being directed toward a career in journalism. My mom thought because I loved to perform and enjoyed editing videos and talking to people, I should try out the broadcast club in high school, which is kind of where it all began. I took the broadcast class my junior year and served as the TA senior year. After that, I sort of knew that was what I was meant to study.
My passion for news grew and I dove right into the opportunities provided through the J-School in both print and broadcast. I worked my way up the ladder with the University Daily Kansan and served as the summer and fall editor-in-chief last year. It was the largest learning experience I've ever undergone, not only in making sure a well-known and respected student media organization stayed afloat in the middle of a pandemic, but also managing people in a way I never had before. I had a staff of over 100 students that couldn't all meet in person due to COVID guidelines and it proved to be really difficult to make sure everyone was on the same page. However, I look back at my term and know that it was successful, and I am so proud of all of the people I had the privilege of working with.
I also worked with KUJH during my time in the J-School to sharpen my broadcast skills. Now, I work as a morning anchor/multimedia journalist at the News-Press NOW in St. Joseph, Missouri, and that can be credited back to the J-School too. I was able to complete my capstone graduation requirement here last spring and made a good enough impression to be asked to stay on full time. I now solo anchor five shows a day, Monday-Friday and am being trained to produce, while also being required to turn two stories a week with both a print and video component. The best part is, through my experience here as an intern in the spring to now being a full-time employee, the transition has been pretty seamless.
As much as my hours are different and have been difficult to adjust to, I know the fundamentals of this newsroom, have connections here and know what the expectations are, which was very comforting to be able to come into right out college. I wouldn't have that opportunity if KU didn't have such great relationships with so many professional institutions not just across the state, but throughout the nation.
The most important piece of advice that I can give current students is to get involved as soon as you can and take advantage of all the opportunities the J-School offers. There are so many ways to get involved in journalism in so many different capacities. There really is something for everyone, and if you feel like there's not, you're in the best place to be able to create something new. The professors are all so encouraging and willing to help in any way you need them to -- all you have to do is ask. Our J-School is such a special place. Take in every moment, make sure you dig in deep to find what matters most to you and do it as big as you can.