Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Diana Rocco: "A Lot of People Can't Advocate for Themselves. That's What Journalists Get to Do."


Diana Rocco grew up in a home full of people engaged in local politics. She thought there might be a path in that for her, so she went to the University of Connecticut to study political science.

But she learned that holding an elected office had no appeal to her, so she switched gears. She turned to broadcast journalism - which she had long been interested in, and transferred to Syracuse University.

"I love telling people's stories," said Diana, now a reporter/anchor at CBS 3. "A lot of people can't advocate for themselves. That's what journalists get to do."

Since entering the profession, she has covered red carpet events, the debt ceiling crisis, hurricanes, murders and various random events along the way (see her latest stories here).

"Every day is different," she said.

This week, Diana did a story about a pair of students at Central Bucks South High School who were named the homecoming king and queen. Both have Down syndrome, and they were very excited to have won.

Diana and a photographer arrived for the interview at 8:30. By 9, she was writing her script and by 9:20, they were editing. The story ran on the 10 pm newscast.

"You want to captivate people," she said of the challenge of crafting stories.

While she has bounced around a bit in her career - from The Bronx to Hartford, Boston to New York and DC, she said that she is happy here. Her station is in a ratings battle with the local NBC affiliate, so her station is thinking about the focus of their 11 newscast. They are featuring more human interest stories and less hard news.

It can be a difficult business - long hours, with spot news occurring every now and then - but it is exciting to experience events and learn about people's lives, Diana said.

"That's my passion," she said. "I'm a truth-seeker by nature."

Here are a few other things she said that stuck out to me:

• Her station is a reporter-driven shop. That means that the reporters are tasked with generating story ideas, more than simply being handed story ideas.
• The reporters are competitive amongst each other, sometimes pushing for their stories to lead the newscast.
• Philadelphia is a market where the reporters rely upon sources (as opposed to being fed information via press conferences or other public means).
• That means that journalists must constantly be developing sources.

• When covering tragedies, you have to remain professional. But it's OK to be human, as well. ""It's OK to let them know that it also affected you," she said.

• Where the local broadcasters in Boston seemed to follow the news they found in the local print newspapers, in Philadelphia, the opposite occurs, she said. Things that are on the evening newscast wind up in print the next day.

• Your first job as a broadcast journalist might be in some far off place, like Iowa. And you'll likely start as a one-man band (reporting, shooting, editing, etc all by yourself).

• Every good anchor was a good reporter before.
• Anchors and reporters must be informed about everything. "You don't punch a clock," she said. "I'm always consuming information."
• Having a dual degree gives her greater perspective and an understanding of history and context.

• She gets recognized on the street every now and then. "It's always after I work out and I'm all sweaty," she said, joking.

24 comments:

Montana Bassett said...

What was most interesting for me was to hear about how things work in different markets. For example in Philadelphia she talked about how it took her a longer time to get in with the reporters because they are more skeptical but once she was in they are very loyal. Another thing that stood out to me was her discussion about sources, how to get those sources and the importance of them in the business. It was interesting to hear how different newsrooms operate in terms of how they choose which story will be used. One last thing related to this point that stood out to me was when she talked about how working where she does now is very different from working at a large network. I thought it was interesting to get a little bit of an insight into the inner workings of newsrooms, differences between markets and how having sources in the police department, for example, is extremely important.

Shane McGinley said...

One of the most shocking parts of her speech was the story about the one reporter she knew who was fired after posting information. If the station told her to run with the information, they should be held just as responsible for the mistake. I feel sorry for that reporter and I think that punishment was too harsh. Maybe a suspension would be justified but a full firing seems too extreme. I think it really showed how brutal the journalism business can be. Journalist are expected to be perfect and one mistake can cause a person to lose their job. I think this is a good lesson for all young journalists as they embark on their career. It is nice to learn about this early and before I publish information that has yet to be confirmed and I get punished for it.

Carolanne Patrylak said...

I was really excited when we were told that Diana Rocco was coming to speak to our class, mainly because I have watched her on CBS3 a few times so it was cool to see her in person! I found her speech to be extremely helpful considering I am thinking about broadcast/journalism as a future profession. One piece of information that I found to be the most valuable is when Diana Rocco said "always save numbers and make connections because you never know who you are going to need to contact in the future". Students have been reminded endlessly to make connections but it seems real hearing it from someone who you could consider "famous" from our area. I also really appreciated that she stayed after the class was dismissed to take pictures and talk with the students on a more personal level.

jacqui fricke said...

I thought she was wonderful! I previously toured CBS, and the lady was incredibly rude about the industry. The lady spoke of how you make no matter, how the hours suck, and how no one earns fame. Hearing Diana was a welcomed relief. She gave the real information on the drawbacks of being a reporter, but she also gave reasons why the job is worth the cons. She came off as incredibly knowledgeable and had a smart response to everything. She was also very kind and not conceited in the least. I trusted her judgment, and it was a pleasure to hear her speak.

Sheri McPherson said...

My name is Sheri McPherson and I am Diana's aunt and couldn't be more proud of her.

Aiah Alkhars said...

She made me feel better about the industry, she talked to us after class, and she told us about all the hard things that reporters go through (like the person that wanted to eat her feet), but she also let us know that there is much more good in the profession than there is bad. (Also being a journalist is probably the best job ever)

Geneva Heffernan said...

It seems that there is a common denominator in the opinions of journalists that the career is passion driven. This makes me hopeful that there is a way to make it work in the field despite the constant reminders that journalism jobs are typically low-paying, competitive, and have inconsistent hours and schedules. One striking element that Diana mentioned however, was that her career has consumed her life. This gave me pause, to stop and think about the commitment required in the field of journalism. I have done fairly well maintaining optimism and a positive outlook throughout encounters with other speakers and journalists and the warnings they offered, but for some reason the idea of journalistic jobs consuming lives saddened me. It doesn’t feel right that a person’s job should take over his/her life, and yet there are people out there, like Diana, who just accept it as a reality.

Simone Stancil said...

After Diana came and spoke with our class, I felt so inspired by what she had shared with us. I know it can be difficult being a journalist, especially when there can be so many factors working against you. Diana talked to us about her own experiences- how she crossed over into broadcast journalism, being on her own in the harsh chaos of New York City, and ultimately becoming an established anchor/reporter. She seemed so passionate about what she does, and that's the drive that encourages me the most. I feel like her determination is what makes the product of her work so much richer in the end, and that's what I love to see. After class, I had the opportunity to talk with Diana on a more personal level and she told the small group around her how bad she was when she first began. However, she reassured us that all of the mistakes she had made were okay because she was still learning, and as a college student I've realized that's exactly the case. I know that if I persevere in every possible aspect, I can be successful, just like Diana. I am so grateful to have had the chance to meet her and hear her story!

-Simone Stancil

Ashley Paskill said...

Diana was awesome. She answered each question with such grace and knowledge. What stood out to me was her approach of being able to help people tell their stories through journalism. Journalism makes a difference by bringing light to various perspectives of a story and give a voice to those who don't have one otherwise. Another thing that is so important about what she said is "It's so important to have a pulse on the market you're in." It is really important to know what is going on in journalism and to stay informed about the world at large.

Grace Shallow said...

Diana speaking to the class was very inspiring. I have no interest in broadcast journalism at the moment but the things she said about journalism being "the best job in the world" because of our ability to give a voice to the people was similar to my own line of thinking about this profession. She was easy to relate to and showed that hard work and determination will lead to success in this field.

Tori Bulgier said...

Diana is a pretty impressive individual. I was blown away by her professionalism and expertise. It was comforting to hear all of the positive things that Diana had to say about the industry. After hearing Diana's story, it motivated me to chase after every opportunity. I enjoyed hearing about all of Diana's experiences, including her humble beginnings. My favorite part of Diana's visit was hearing about her time in The Bronx. Listening to Diana explain her struggles as a young journalist was scary, but her stories helped me better understand the harsh realities of the industry. I give journalists a lot of credit. Journalists are constantly under pressure and face frequent challenges on a daily basis. Despite popular belief, journalists are valuable contributors to society, and Diana made this point clear throughout her discussion. Diana makes broadcast journalism look easy through her calm demeanor and confidence. It was difficult for me to understand all of the challenges that Diana faces, when she makes it look so effortless on television. I admire Diana for her curiosity and willingness to challenge herself. Thanks to Diana's words of wisdom, I feel more confident pursuing a career in journalism.

Jensen Toussaint said...

I really enjoyed listening to Diana Rocco speak! I have seen her on CBS3 news before and it was really great seeing her in person. It was very interesting to me listening to how different the markets in different cities are. I liked how she explains what led her to this profession and it was easy to tell that she really enjoyed what she did. I think it's important to pick a profession that you are both good at have a passion for and it was very easy to see that both categories were true for Diana. It's clear that she definitely knows what she is talking about and it was really great listening to her speak. Her hard work and dedication is very inspiring and I really appreciate her coming to speak to us.

Alex Smigo said...

I thought the meeting with Diana Rocco was very informative! On camera she seems so professional and rather intimidating, but in person she was so welcoming when I first spoke to her. You can tell that she not only really cares about journalism, but also really cares about making a difference in her community through her passion for sports broadcasting.



**Wouldnt let me log in with my temple email (tue99371@temple.edu) so i use my personal email.

Drui Caldwell said...

I enjoyed listening to Diana Rocco. I liked that she was able to discuss how to be professional in stories that are very hard to listen to but it's still okay to let the people know that it impacted you. I've seen her a few times on TV and it was really cool to see her in person. I liked that she was able to talk about the different markets and the struggles and challenges she endured as a young journalist.

Robert Wurtenberg said...

I really enjoyed the discussion from Diana Rocco. I feel like it really helped me better understand what people like her have to go through with this job. It was really easy to relate to how she had the struggles of a young journalist because as we are all young journalists, this will probably be some things we have to go through.

Morgan Kolakowski said...

I think Diana Rocco was a great person to have come in and talk to inspiring journalists, like us. She helped explain what it will be like if we continue down the path of this career. I think she is a very good journalist, who displays some of the principles of journalism that we have learned about. It did scare me a little when family was brought up. That is something that I really want to have when I am older and I think I am going to have to try and find a good balance between the two, which may be very tough. Overall, I think she taught our class a lot and I am looking forward to reaching out to her in the future.

Thomas Beck said...

I really enjoyed listening to Diana speak. She seemed very shrewd and hardworking. However, her enumeration of journalistic duties turned me off somewhat to the career she has chosen to pursue. I don't know if I would be able to effectively manage my time and energy if I had as many responsibilities as she did.

Molly Shelly said...

Listening to Diana speak only made my love and passion for journalism grow stronger. She is such a talented and driven women, she truly inspired me to go for my dreams and do what I love. She gave such helpful advice on how to find stories and how to get involved in the field. It was a true joy being able to listen to what she had to say.

Anonymous said...

Adriana Vela
What I enjoyed most about her visit, was her personality and how she's passionate about her job. I could tell that she loves what she does and is very successful at it too. It was inspiring listening to her tell us just about herself how she went to school for one thing and then realized what she enjoyed doing which is listening to people stories and went for it, She was very inspiring and had a lot of positive energy. I enjoyed her as our class speaker.

Jon Dowding said...

I really enjoyed having Diana speak to the class. She helps to provide such a unique perspective since she has worked in so many diverse markets. Currently, I have declared a political science minor yet I was still questioning if that was the right choice. After hearing Diana speak about how much her political science helped her in her career though, it made me realize that I should stick to it. I just really enjoy when people from the professional world come and speak to us. It provides such a unique perspective that we cannot always get from the classroom. Plus, the advice she gave about internships and techniques she uses while reporting is very beneficial as well.

Kaicey Baylor said...

I really enjoyed having Diana Rocco in class. She was very inspiring and I like how she openly walked us through her career. What stuck out the most to me was that she admitted that being a journalist is not easy, but if you really love it, then you won't stop working at it. She shared great tips and encouraged us to become active and begin internships early to gain experience. I'm happy that she tok the time out of her busy schedule to talk with the class because it allows us to see into what anchors and reporters do behind the scenes and the career path they have chosen to get to where they are now. Rocco is truly working to inform the Philadelphia community truthfully and is driven to work hard each and every day, which is what inspires me to become a journalist.

Nina de Vitry said...

I really enjoyed Diana's visit to class. I found it very interesting how she described her growth in the journalism industry, and the risks and steps she took to be where she is today. For example, her first job was in NYC, which is very surprising to me, because I would expect someone new to start small (in their hometown, etc). However, this was not the case for her-- she described driving around the confusing streets with a map on her steering wheel! Stories like this gave her job a super tangible and real feel, and it helped me to understand that there is only what thing that will get you through (and ahead) in the journalism world- passion. Her diligence and risk taking astounded me, for she seems to have dropped many jobs to pursue new ones in her lifetime. It was very inspiring to me that she gave up a stable position to report on politics in DC. This reminded me that even in the face of a tough industry, there is still something to be said for chasing your dreams.

Alexis Rogers said...

I think Diana was a very inspirational and informative speaker. Her kind and curious personality helped to answer many questions within journalism. I enjoyed hearing all the details about the daily life of a reporter/news anchor. What stood out the most for me was when she talked about covering stories dealing with tragedy. Although she expressed the difficulty of remaining neutral between professionalism and a sympathetic feeling, she emphasized the point that we are still human. There is always going to be some type of emotion felt within the story. It is important to not allow that to overcome the actual facts about the issue. She was very helpful in answering questions and is very passionate about her job and the issues she covers.

James Dougherty said...

I enjoyed listening to Diana Rocco when she came to our class. She was very open about her job and told us everything she knew to help us with our careers. She showed us what it was like to go from job to job until you find one that you enjoy. She gave us an inside look into her day and how her company runs their stories. She gave us a insight into a daily routine, and she went through and the ups and downs of her job. She was able to give us information on different aspects of journalism, such as anchor, field reporter, newspaper writer, etc. With Diana's visit it allowed us to see what it would be like for us when we become journalist.