Media Professional to TSU Students

By Sydni Gibbs

April 26, 2019

Debra McGaughey shows power point presentation to TSU students.

         Director of Communication Services for Houston Community College Central told journalism majors at Texas Southern University on April 10th, about the involvement she had in the different phases as a reporter. Debra McGaughey began her college education in up-state New York, at a relatively small university, studying sociology. However, when she received back an essay, a professor changed her life with the feedback he scribed on this paper. He told her she should consider switching her major to journalism. McGaughey had an epiphany, and quickly transferred to a college in Boston, where began her career as an official journalist.
McGaughey started as a reporter for television news where she landed her first career at Channel 11. She spent approximately 12 years in this job.  Though having mentioned she loved it, she says, “People think it’s very glamorous...none of that is true. It is hard work; you’re sweating and you’re scrambling.” She explained how television has a brevity when it comes to reporting news, unlike print newspaper. This entail having the crucial ability to interview and capture a sound bite within a five-minute time frame. McGaughey told students that back then it was a little simpler, however, now aspiring reporters need to have several skills under their belt such as writing, shooting video reels, and editing. “Writing is the foundation of everything,” said McGaughey. She cautioned that if one cannot write, one will not be prepared for the world of journalism.
Onward with her journey, she became a television manager for HGCTV, a college news station. McGaughey explained how she became a “shot caller” and how her position behind the camera was just as important, if not more important the positions in front of the camera. “You’re creating and dictating what the public sees and that is infinitely more valuable,” said McGaughey. Her career working as a TV manager at HGCTV took off and she soon found herself working in the marketing aspect as a Public Relations director, which is the position she still maintains. McGaughey found being in marketing exhilarating because she gets to use all the methods and techniques into one that she learned throughout her whole career as a journalist. She says in marketing, a big thing they do is “...take other people’s work and make it better.” McGaughey told students about fast-paced nature public relations, but also said how much fun it was.
Overall McGaughey covered topics from television news, print newspaper, television management, marketing, and public relations. She asked the students if they were leaders? If they saw a big picture? Do they like budgeting, and things of such? Each one of those skills play into a different rung of journalism. “Assess where you are and what you need to work on,” said McGaughey. She told the zealous journalism majors how they have an immense platform to expand their knowledge and to take advantage of it. Students nowadays need to know how to report on a multimedia platform in order to further their career and make themselves more useful to companies. She left students with something she seemed to stress during her allotted time, that  “Writing is the foundation; know grammar, how it works, and apply it well for a shot at any part of journalism.”