STEVE ESACK HOLDS a grudge.
The Northeast Philly native went to the Community College of Philadelphia before transferring to Temple (c/o '96). He took a reporting job at a weekly newspaper in the 'burbs before landing a gig at the Philadelphia Daily News.
As a desk clerk.
He answered phones and delivered mail.
But he wanted to be a writer. When he approached the executive editor of the newspaper, the editor told Steve, "You won't get anywhere because you went to CCP and Temple. You're not an Ivy Leaguer."
That just pissed him off.
He did a two-year stint at the Inquirer as a suburban correspondent and then went to the Allentown Morning Call, where he is now the education reporter.
In 2010, Steve won the Ernie Pyle Award for a 5-part feature series about a high school football team and their new coach.
Here are a few things that stood out for me from his visit to class:
• If you have any fears about approaching people and asking them questions, get over that now. If you want to be a journalist, you have to be able to socialize and make connections with people.
• "This business has always been about people," he said. "And it will always be about people."
• His father was a police office and his mother ran a corner grocery store.
• He tries to distance himself from stories but he's not a robot. "Sometimes it's impossible for me not to get angry, pissed, upset, sad, whatever," he said. "If you can feel and see the emotion in a story, put that in the story. You know your readers will feel it too."
• When he was a general assignment reporter, his editors would throw stories at him. And he always followed up on the leads. He's never turned down an assignment.
• He suggests that you pitch stories rather than wait for editors to hit you with assignments. You'd much rather do the stories you're interested in, rather than the random stuff your editors may come up with.
• Steve shoots images and video with his iPhone for the stories he writes.
• He says you should learn how to edit video.
• If you have multiple skills, you will be employable in journalism. And Steve said that you won't likely have to do the old bounce around from small media outlet to slightly larger, to slightly larger outlet, before reaching your dream outlet.
• Winning awards is great (The Ernie Pyle came with a bundle of cash) but awards are subjective. It's just the judgment of a group of folks. Being honored does not signify to him that he has reached a pinnacle of his career. But it did feel good to win.
• He still hustles on every story. "Any assignment I do," he said, "I do to the best of my ability."
He forgot to mention in class but the Allentown Morning Call offers a bunch of internships - paid and unpaid. Check them out here.
What stood out for you?
6 months ago