Event Story

DEMOREST – Floridian and Professor at Florida State University, Diane Roberts spoke to Piedmont mass communications students in one of her three lectures recently about being a journalist, author and what it took to get to where she is today. She was introduced by Director of the Lillian E. Smith Center, Craig Amason.

Her wit and dry humor captured the audience’s attention almost immediately. Her stories about her career were very personable and were things that the audience could relate to.

“It was an amazing experience to listen to a woman and her success in the same career as me,” said senior mass communications major Durden Smith.

As she was asked about her journey to success, she began to laugh, giving the audience the vibe that her career was not always successful.

“How I got started was by being a bad writer,” she said. “I just thought you could write because you could write. It’s a craft, and it had never dawned on me.”

As Roberts talked about her journey, she mentioned that she was assigned to write about the opening day of the Florida legislative session. She noticed she was different than other reporters almost immediately.

“Every other journalist there writes about what the speeches are, what the bills are, and we need that, but I thought why does everybody have 10 boxes of Girl Scout cookies,” she said.

Instead of writing basic news stories, she was more interested in writing about the details, the things that nobody cared to talk about in their articles.

“I wrote about the things around the margins,” she said.

“Hearing her speak made me realize that even successful people like her have had trials that have gotten them to where they are today,” said sophomore mass communications major, Nate Roys.

She was also asked about the impact that social media has on journalists today. Her answer made sense to everyone. “In the world of social media, anything can have an audience.”

Not only did she talk about her experience in journalism, but she also gave a little detail about her family, how she grew up and how she doesn’t live as the stereotypical southerner.

As young journalists, each student hung on to every word she said as she gave pieces of advice during her session, like “no matter what you accomplish, there’s always a what next,” “a good reporter will behave as if he or she doesn’t know everything” and “get it right, even if you don’t get it first.”

To end her lecture, she said journalism “could be visual, audio, words on a page or a screen. It’s all about telling the story.”

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