While studying journalism at
Brown University this summer, I was fortunate to score an interview with Bill Hemmer of FOX News
What did you major in at Miami
I was a broadcast journalism major. I was able to take
advantage of a fairly large media market, which was critical tome. As a sophomore, I had an
internship at Channel 5 in Cincinnati and,as a junior, got hired primarily to work weekends. I took
a producer’s job and worked there for almost three years. The lesson is that it’s
very important to understand the value of an internship - whether it’s TV or anything
else, people hire those they know. When it comes time to fill entry-level positions,
if they’re familiar with you as a person, people will reach for you and you will be in a
position to get the job.
How did you get to
I hired an agent to look around the country to seew here I could
go. My agent got me an audition with CNN in Atlanta, and Igot the job. That was the summer of 1995.
Why did you decide to move to
CNN asked me to be White House correspondent and I
wasn’t prepared to leave New York.Fortunately, I had a lot of options and was able to
work it out with FOX.
What are some of your favorite
events that you have covered?
Countless great events: the war in
Kosovo; the election recount in Florida; a month in Jerusalem that I remember quite vividly;9/11 for
six weeks; Kuwait; Afghanistan after that, and the second
In terms of interviews, how do you get
people totalk to you who don’t want to?
Preparation is your
best ally. If you’ve done your homework, you can get a lot of knowledge from your research.
Figure out where a person’s coming from, know what they’ve said before about a
certain topic or subject. Also,remember to be an understanding human being. Sometimes
you’re involved in sensitive subjects for others and it’s important to be mindful
that they have a heart, too, and you could show that on
Do you get nervous or practice when you
interview someone famous?
Practice, no. I think a touch of anxiety is
a good thing. I think nerves are negative energy while anxiety can be a positive energy. A little bit
of fire in the belly sometimes improves your
How is it different
interviewing politicians or public figures versus others?
political strategists always come with what they’re going to say. Often politicians also
come with what they’re going to say, and it’s your job to get an honest,
different answer from what they’ve said in the past. That’s one of the tricky
things oncable news: people are paid to be a certain way and be good at it.It’s tough to
get other answers.
Name a few people you
I’ve always admired Peter Jennings and Dan Rather.
I think they have an ability to speak into the camera with style and
Any advice for aspiring journalists,
particularly in terms of interview skills?
There is no substitute for
experience. In order to perfect the craft, you have to do it. That means repetition and practice and
learning how to write, whether it’s taking courses or getting that internship.
It’s important for people to learn your work ethic and style.
Once you have a job, you want to push and push and take on
more responsibility with a level of patience, too. There’s a common frustration level about
getting as much as you want right away. I would urge patience and you really have to get into it for
a good three years before you settle into a comfort zone and get the dream job. Sometimes it takes a
lot of transition, hopping from city to city, but I think it’s an incredibly rewarding
profession. I get to see history unfold before my eyes. I would encourage people to remember
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.