Brandon James, a 2016 J-school grad
Michelle Floyd ('17), after pitching perfect game in March 2017
Editor's note: Professor Susan Knight visited with recent graduates Brandon James and Michelle Floyd during Homecoming week. She asked how their time at the UA School of Journalism influenced each.
Much of what Brandon James learned in journalism school is coming in handy on his job on the digital team for Hendrick Motorsports, a Charlotte-based company with four NASCAR racing teams.
As a content communications specialist for Hendrick, the 2016 graduate regularly writes race recap stories and posts for the company’s social media accounts.
James was in town for Homecoming this week and stopped by the Marshall building to visit professors Susan Knight, Nancy Sharkey, William Schmidt and others.
Hendrick was looking for journalism grads, not for writers with any knowledge of NASCAR, James said. In fact, they preferred a candidate, like him, someone who had no racing interest or background, someone who hadn’t already made assumptions about the industry — and someone with solid journalism skills.
Asked what he is using most from his UA journalism studies, James said, “A lot!” He expanded:
- Deadlines: “I am writing fast on deadlines all the time. If not 5 to 10 minutes after a race, my editor is asking, ‘Where is it? Where is it?’” James said he appreciates the deadline-writing experiences in his J-school classes.
- The basics: “Online writing is somewhat different, but with any writing, it’s back to the basics and how do you write a good lead.” James said he got a foundation in solid writing in his journalism classes.
- Interpersonal communication: “I learned how to talk to people, how to interview,” he said.
- News judgment: James said when he sits down to write a story with little time before he publishes, he finds his news judgment has become instinctual from his schoolwork. He might panic a little with minutes to get a story out. “I think, oh, no, what can I write, where do I start, and then it kicks in and I know the news peg. I am able to write quickly and efficiently.”
- Attention to detail: His professors hammered a reporter’s need to get details, specifics. “That’s helped me a lot,” he said.
An area work that James focuses on and where he think journalism students should spend more time learning is in content management systems and social media metrics and analytics, areas the faculty committee on undergraduate education in the J-school is studying currently for integration into required courses.