As a part of a blog series, Talk Shop has been ‘talking shop’ with local movers and shakers. Today, we are excited to profile Sun News Reporter Josh Skurnik. Josh is a mobile journalist and studio reporter for Sun News Network.
What did you think you were going to be when you were a kid? An Olympic wrestler. Though I was never at that level I was blessed with the opportunity to wrestle in college. When I was in high school though, I decided my true goal was to become a television anchor, and so had my own high school television show my 12th grade year!
What do you do now? I am living my dream working as a television reporter. I am currently a mobile journalist and studio reporter for Sun News Network. That means I am either in the field getting the story or in our Vancouver studio doing live-shots with our anchors in Toronto, telling them what’s going on in Western Canada.
Describe a typical day in 50 words or less. Sometimes I am on-air as early as 6 am! If I am a ‘mobile journalist,’ I get my assignment from Toronto and will cover everything from a flood-zone to interviewing the Premier. If I’m a studio reporter, every hour I am doing a live-shot, throwing to soundbites and pictures.
What is your best advice for those looking to enter the field? Go to a good school for broadcast journalism, or make your school good for it. The school I went to for journalism (Go Mizzou!) owns a major local station in town. The anchors there are professional TV anchors, but the reporters are all students. That meant when I graduated I had a demo tape of me on-air on an actual NBC affiliate that I could show to news directors. That immediately set me apart from other recent grads. If your school doesn’t have something like this, get an internship with a local station that allows you to make up a demo tape using their resources. It will probably be only for college credit, but the experience and the resume building are worth it..
What’s the best part of your job? My favorite things in life are to meet new people, learn new things, express myself, and wrestle. I get to do three of those things every day at my job. When Calgary had it’s flooding in June, I got a call on a Saturday at 3 pm, was on a plane that evening, and reporting on the ground Sunday morning in ground zero. It was exhausting, draining, and the biggest story of my career so far. It’s what you live for in this business. During the 2013 election I got to see first-hand how the BC Liberals managed to orchestrate their come-from-behind victory, there for every twist and turn. In this job you get two things. One is the responsibility as a gatekeeper of information; people rely on you to keep them informed on what is important to them. You also get the privilege of getting that information first, right on the front lines, seeing history in its rawest form unfold before your eyes.
What is the hardest part? Journalism is not easy. Especially television journalism. My first job I had a base pay just above the poverty level with a college degree. You will live in small towns you have never heard of just to get your foot in the door. I am 26, and since the age of 19 I have lived in: Missouri, Washington DC, Texas, Seattle and now Vancouver, all in some part because of journalism. It is very competitive, and the road is never clear-cut. Between my former and current TV news gigs, I worked as: a commercial writer and actor, a ditch digger, a model, a marketing promotions rep, and a documentary writer. I then got my job with Sun News, which is better than all of the stations that rejected me in-between combined. The novelty of being on TV gets old very quick. It is not a glorious business; it is long hours working holidays and weekends with high stress. You will do stories that will break your heart, and test you on what you truly believe is the ethical thing to do. Do you talk to the parents who just lost their child in a car accident, when all of the other stations are? Do you release the names of the suspects and have the exclusive story, despite police saying it would harm the investigation? All of this is an inherent part of the business. It is the love of story telling and being on the cutting-edge of history that makes it all worth it.
Where can we find you at 5:02pm on a Friday? That’s my day off, so hopefully Kits beach!