Traci G. Lee is a digital producer for MSNBC.com's Martin Bashir show. Before taking on that role, Traci worked as a multimedia producer for the organization, and also worked with NPR and on editorial projects related to education.
Below, Traci offers a behind-the-scenes peek at her day-to-day professional tasks, shares advice for aspiring journalists, and provides worthwhile social media recommendations.
What takes up most of your time as a multimedia producer at msnbc.com?
My previous position at MSNBC was multimedia producer for msnbc.com, but currently I'm a digital producer for MSNBC's Martin Bashir show. The thing that takes up most of my time is sorting through content to post on our social media properties. I try to tweet and post articles relevant to the issues our audience is interested in, which requires acute awareness of what different news organizations are writing about (and therefore a lot of reading). My work also varies depending on the articles I may be writing on a given day- the ones that require more intense research and detailed writing can take up an entire day.
Should you have a younger family member who is interested in becoming a journalist, what advice or warnings would you give to him or her?
It's funny--my older sister actually became a journalist after I did. The advice I gave her would be the same I'd give a younger family member: there's no such thing as a 9-5 day, so stay plugged in. Before you get to the part where you're a top national reporter or churning out byline and after byline every day, you have to become well-informed and tuned into the various dialogues taking place on social media and in the news you're following (whether it's a certain beat, a community, etc.).
Have you gotten most of your work as a journalist through personal connections, job applications, internships, or some other avenue entirely?
I haven't used personal connections to get any of my internships or jobs. After graduating, I made it my full-time job to apply for internships and jobs, and kept telling myself not to get frustrated by rejection. I must've applied for at least 5 or 6 positions every day and was lucky to even get an automatic email response. That's when I realized there were so many new grads out there fighting for the same jobs, so I really couldn't be picky.
How many of your colleagues earn additional income from freelance work, consulting, books, or some other venture on the side? Is it common to for people in the field to be doing multiple things at once?
All of my immediate colleagues on the Bashir team are pretty much is focused on this show. They're also reading all the time. I don't know if I've ever worked among such intelligent and informed people; I'm really lucky and constantly motivated to be reading more and learning more. It is common for many journalists to do multiple things at once, and I know of people inside 30 Rock who write books or are talking heads on other television/radio shows.
Which online tools or platforms would you recommend to aspiring journalists who would like to build a reputation for themselves and gain attention from potential employers?
Twitter, LinkedIn, Muckrack, and Google+.
Are there any legal (or company policy-related) issues fledgling journalists should be aware of when publishing content (for personal or professional reasons) online?
The most important thing to remember is whether you are affiliated with a company/brand, don't make yourself look stupid on social media. What you post online isn't easily deleted and can live on forever. So if you tweet something that gets you a lot of negative attention, that could follow you for a while and may end up being the first thing a potential employer sees when he/she Googles you.