Journalism Alumni Share Success Stories with Students
Reported by Brendan Cherry ’09
Left to right: Boston Globe reporter Maria Sacchetti ’91, Pittsburgh
television reporter Aaron Saykin ’01, and public relations manager
Sandy Lish ’87
Students eager to find jobs crave advice. So when a group of distinguished UMass Amherst alumni journalists came to campus on April 24 to discuss getting started in the business, the current generation of journalism students packed into The Bluewall at the Campus Center. Sponsored by the Journalism Program Lecture Series on Broadcast and the Media, the event featured sportswriter Steve Buckley ’78, public relations manager Sandy Lish ’87, Boston Globe reporter Maria Sacchetti ’91, Pittsburgh television reporter Aaron Saykin ’01 and National Public Radio correspondent Audie Cornish ’01. The lecture series is funded by David (’79) and Teena Kantor.
Buckley, author of two books, a WEEI talk show personality, and sports columnist at The Boston Herald, said his journalism career actually began in the Blue Wall, then a popular on-campus watering hole rumored to have served more beer than any bar in America. “I never found out if that rumor was true, but I certainly contributed to the beer drinking,” Buckley quipped. And when his roommate asked him to cover the wrestling team for The Daily Collegian over a brew, he took the assignment. Buckley also recalled a professor advising him: “Have a world view,” a recommendation he passed on to the students, explaining that it is important to know more than just your particular specialty.
Sandy Lish ’87 is the principal/founder of The Castle Group Inc., which deals in public relations and events management and won the CWE “Emerging Business Star” award. Lish told students to take any job you possibly can, because that’s the way to learn what you truly want to do.
Audie Cornish ’01, who covers 10 states in the south and reports for NPR’s award winning Morning Edition. found that her talents were best honed by experiencing many different kinds of jobs, including some that she did not enjoy.
Aaron Saykin ’01 and Maria Sacchetti ’91 had similar messages for the students: “Be relentless!” Saykin said. Describing the process of getting his first job, he recalled sending hundreds of VHS tapes to news studios across the nation. After a year, finally landing a job for $19,000 a year, Saykin threw all his belongings in a car and headed for North Carolina. “Take any job you can when starting out,” he said. “It will build your resume and give you a better understanding of the industry.” Now is a reporter for WTAE Channel 4 Action News team, Saykin won an Emmy for his profile of “J-Mac,” the autistic boy who scored 20 points in 4 minutes in a high school basketball game.
With $500 and a plane ticket, Sacchetti moved to Costa Rica just after graduating. Finding an English language newspaper, she “begged” for a job. “They said they would not have any computers, so I said I wouldn’t need one,” she recalled. “They said they did not have any money to pay me, so I said I would work for free.” That persistence eventually paid off with a job and continued to work in her favor. Sacchetti revealed that she is afraid of rollercoasters, yet she had no problem hitchhiking along the Costa Rican coast to cover a story. She is currently an education reporter at The Boston Globe.
Combining journalists eager to learn with successful journalists eager to share advice makes a recipe for a great event. The Journalism Program Lecture Series on Broadcast and the Media continues to bring students into contact with some of the best in the business.
April 30, 2007