Journalists are coming

The Soundings program and The Spartan will host accomplished journalists Kevin Sites and Tracy Schmidt the first week of March, offering students and faculty a glimpse into the world of reporting. Both reporters will share their accomplishments and experiences in their risky and dramatic field of work.

Tracy Schmidt began reporting at the age of 15. By 18, Schmidt was being paid for her column, “Teen Talk,” which was published in 18 different suburban newspapers around Chicago.

She attended Dominican University in Chicago in 2002 then Georgetown University in 2004. She earned an internship at Time magazine, where she fought to have her journalistic abilities noticed. Later, while she studied for her graduate degree in journalism, she taught two sections of Introduction to Journalism. She was merely 21 years old.

Her first contracted job came from Time.com, which put a halt on her graduate degree but after almost a year, in December of 2006, Schmidt was hired as an associate web producer and reporter for Time.com.

When the Virginia Tech shootings occurred last April, Schmidt drove four hours in a rental car to get first-hand accounts from eyewitnesses. She and a Time freelance journalist found Clay Violand, a student in one of the classrooms where others were shot. Violand gave the reporters a first hand account of the terror at the University via e-mail after she used Facebook to track him down. “I want to talk about how I use Facebook and other forms of technology,” says Schmidt in regards to her presentation at the college. Schmidt will also speak about her experience with the Virginia Tech tragedy.

Time.com published these accounts and two days later Time Magazine also published the exclusive interview.

Since, Schmidt has finished her graduate degree and has taken a position at the Institute on Political Journalism and continues to write for Time on the side.

Through her lecture, Schmidt hopes to make students aware of how modern journalism has changed.

“I really want young journalists to know how technology has changed journalism,” she said.

Kevin Sites is described as a pioneer in the field of war journalism. He has traveled to war zones in Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Sites has put himself on the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan and covered the anti-drug efforts in Columbia. He has worked for several major news corporations including NBC and MSNBC News, Nightly News, and CNN.

Sites’ reporting has risked his life at times. He and his team were captured in Iraq, their equipment taken, and their lives threatened until negotiations got the crew released.

He has published several articles as well as his book ‘In the Hot Zone One Man, One Year, Twenty wars.’ He is also Yahoo! News’ first correspondent.

Sites is this semester’s Keystone speaker. Soundings program director, Shannon Bohler-Small says Sites was chosen as the Keystone speaker to show students how the idea of a war correspondent as well as correspondence itself has evolved.

“We brought Kevin because of our Communication department and because we have a newspaper on campus and we have students interested in the technology he uses,” said Bohler-Small.

Sites was out of town on work related business and could not be reached for comment.

The journalists will both be presenting in Glenbrook gym. Schmidt will give her presentation on March 3 at 7 p.m. and Sites will present in two parts on March 7. His lecture will take place at 7 p.m. and a discussion will follow at 8 p.m. Both lectures are worth Soundings credit.

“I’m excited to expose students to two high-powered journalists who I hope can inspire our future journalists,” sais Spartan advisor, Professor Dave Blow who helped bring Schmidt to the Castleton campus.

“I hope the students enjoy the presentations,” said Spartan editor Janet Gillett.