Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Danielle Dwyer

Get the student perspective!

I love journalism because I believe everybody has a story to tell and I want to be the one to share it with others. Although I come from a background dominated in sports writing, broadcast and online, I have learned to really grasp the public affairs focus of the program. Not only has it enhanced my writing and reporting skills, but has also made me a better well-rounded journalist. Upon completing this program, my goal is to pursue sports reporting, however, I feel I could go into any field because of the variety of topics I have covered during this program and because journalism is an ever-changing career field. As long as I’m telling a story, it doesn’t matter the platform or subject matter because ultimately I’m doing what I love.

Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Columbia.

Before Columbia…seems like it was longer than six months ago.

After graduating from Thiel College in Greenville, Penn. I tried breaking into a journalism career, but ended up at the JWT Action advertising agency. I started as a media coordinator and buyer for the John Deere account, but ended up making the switch to digital media planning and buying for John Deere and Kimberly-Clark. I quickly realized that I missed journalism, but wanted to stay at my job for at least a year before moving on to another job or going back to school.

Shortly after my first year at the agency I applied to Columbia to enroll the following year. Despite my initial apprehension to leave my job and return to school to pursue my life-long dream career, I know I belong here and there was no better choice to make.

Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?

Although I was born and raised a country girl, I have always been a city girl at heart. When I decided to look into master’s programs I picked three cities I wanted to move to. I looked into graduate schools that offered a journalism master’s degree and what the courses were. Columbia appealed to me the most because it was an accelerated program with a heavy internship focus and had connections to various media outlets throughout the city.

The desire to join the Columbia family increased when I attended the Admitted Students Day. Meeting current students and professors and getting a chance to see the capabilities and resources the program had to offer sealed the deal for me–I had to obtain my master’s in Chicago from Columbia!

Tell us about a project you’re working on that you’re excited about.

A current project I’m most excited about contains multi components across different media–a written portion and a video, audio and still photo slideshow. The written portion is for my reporting local public affairs class and the multimedia segment is for Digital Journalism–an amazing elective that completely changes your outlook as a journalist. The multimedia portion was the first time I had told a story through something other than words or a broadcast segment. I focused on an organic grocery store and café in Pilsen that works to educate and provide Latinos with alternative food options while maintaining a Mexican food twist.

I am so excited about this project because telling the story through images, environmental sounds and the storeowner’s voice reaches the audience on a level far more than my words or my voice could do.

What I like about multimedia is that you really listen for key parts of the interview not only to include in the audio portion, but also to use as your guide to what images you need to capture and use in your piece. This really allowed me to focus on the story and ingrain myself in continuous reporting, which led to what I refer to as “happy accident” reporting. Through continuous reporting I was able to capture all the materials I needed to create a rounded out piece that told a complete story.


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