Vicky Eckenrode is a local news editor for the StarNews in Wilmington, N.C. She covered state government for Morris News Service in Atlanta and also worked as a reporter and bureau chief for the Augusta Chronicle. She has won reporting awards for breaking news, business reporting and news feature writing.
What do you wish you had known before becoming a journalist, and what advice do you have for up-and-comers in the profession?
I wish I had known I was going to need more than a pen and notepad. Before becoming a journalist, I had no idea the impact and change the Internet would have on the industry and our jobs on a daily basis. My advice to journalists – as well as to myself – is to stay flexible and never stop pushing yourself to grow as readership habits and technology changes. At the same time, remember that the core of journalism is solid reporting and compelling writing. Journalism a craft I hope to never fully conquer because I believe no matter how long you do it for, there’s always room to push yourself.
How have you been involved in AAJA over the years?
I first joined AAJA in Atlanta, where I served as the chapter’s treasurer. After moving to North Carolina, I found the same level of commitment to helping other journalists and students in the journalism field. In North Carolina, I served the chapter as a national Advisory Board representative and became chapter president in 2011. Through AAJA, I have gained valuable management training through the Executive Leadership Program (2006) and the advanced ELP program at the AAJA convention in Detroit (2011).
Why did you decide to become a journalist?
I wasn’t going to become a reporter. I was aiming for business school instead. But once I did my first story for what I thought would be a side interest, I was hooked. The responsibility of informing readers about a city budget increase or school board decision has been more fulfilling than anything else I can think of doing. Plus, there are few people more entertaining to work with than journalists.
Why is diversity in the media important to you?
Diversity in the newsroom, whether from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, life experiences or even hobbies, can only help when it comes to putting together a rich and interesting newspaper. Our readers don’t share the same perspectives, and our newsrooms shouldn’t either.
Learn more about other AAJA members profiled for AAPI Month.