Freelance Journalist Mac DeMere Discusses Professional Journalism

By  Carolyn VanBrocklin

During Professor Janna Anderson’s 10:50 a.m. class on Friday March 14, freelance writer and test driver Mac DeMere spoke about being professional journalists and to get feedback about a website that he and a co-worker are launching.

“It wasn’t until I was a junior that I kind of stumbled upon journalism,” DeMere said. He has a journalism degree from the University of Mississippi.

Mac DeMere discusses some traits of being a professional journalist.

Mac DeMere discusses some traits of being a professional journalist.

DeMere’s career has involved many aspects from writing from public relations work to magazines. He has been a test driver and a racecar driver, even being 11th behind Jeff Gordon in 1993 during a NASCAR tour race. He currently is a freelance writer, writing for many automotive publications and is a driving instructor.

As a test driver, DeMere is subjective; he is paid to have an opinion. When driving, DeMere is always focused on safety.

DeMere has been on all sides of the industry, and encouraged students in Anderson’s class to take a variety of classes, because that is something he regrets not doing while in college.

DeMere also spoke about the future of journalism, asking students for their input. “I have no idea what’s going to happen next,” DeMere admitted.

He advised students to pick a field outside journalism that they have an interest in an become somewhat of an expert in it. That way, you’ll have a background of information and “be able to spot fudges, lies and hear what people are not saying,” DeMere said.

DeMere said that although journalists aren’t the best at math, we need to have some suspicion if it comes to numbers that seem too extreme to be true.

When writing car reviews, DeMere has to tailor his language to the audience that he thinks will be most interested in that particular type of car. For example, when talking about the car with the USB thing and Bluetooth capabilities, he would use language that is more technical for younger audiences because they won’t need a detailed explanation, but would say “it’s a place to plug in your iPod to other readers.”

DeMere also listed four things for journalists to focus on. One is accuracy. Being correct goes back to being an expert in the field. “Sometimes its better to give up on completeness for accuracy,” DeMere said. If the story has one error, people notice and are lost as future readers.

He offered this analogy: “You can blow up an engine by putting in the wrong tiny five cent part just as effectively as if you put in the wrong connecting rod,” DeMere said.

Despite the emphasis on accuracy, journalists must still be on time. Deadlines are important in journalism. Articles must also be the right length and be “interesting, emotion-provoking and exciting,” DeMere said

In closing, DeMere reminded students that the world of journalism is changing, and everyone is focusing more on video and shorter, faster news packages.

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