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Lollipop Moment Leads to Fulfilling Career

The plans I made for my life were changed when a leader at Troy State University’s Hall School of Journalism spoke a few innocent words to me. With those words, a dean during the early 90s created a “lollipop” moment for me. In a TED Talk, Drew Dudley described a “lollipop” moment as a time where someone said something or did something that fundamentally made your life better. 

That transformative moment in my life came in 1993 when my parents and I visited Troy State University. We were gathered with all the other visiting students and parents when the event organizers asked us to divide up by our intended major. The plan was to take a tour of those departments. My intention at the time was to major in psychology. However, when the call came for the journalism group to meet, I told my parents that the tour to that department might be more interesting. I had no idea!

We went with the group that toured the journalism department. The most exciting part for me was touring the television studio. All the prospective students thought the set, lights and camera were very cool. Dean Merrill Bankester was explaining to us what happens in the studio. He invited one of the students to have a seat where the sports anchor would sit and give reports. Another student was chosen to stand in front of the green screen where the weather person would stand and deliver the weather report. Then he asked if anyone wanted to sit in the news anchor spot. Nobody moved. Then it happened. Dean Bankester turned and looked at me. He said that I looked like I belonged there and encouraged me to take a seat. I nervously sat at the anchor desk and even read the news on the teleprompter!

I fell in love with broadcasting that day. When I started my college journey that fall, I changed my major to broadcast journalism. I even worked at the campus television station and learned how to write, produce, run the camera and even directed a few newscasts. I had a long and eventful career in broadcasting. Dean Bankester, a true leader, gave me my “lollipop” moment and he never knew it. 

Back in the mid-90s, I directed a several newscasts for TSU-TV. My anxiety was off the charts and I wouldn’t let Mr. Clower leave my side.

Over the years, I have learned that anyone can be a leader. You don’t necessarily have to be a high-ranking school or community leader. Everyone has the ability to be a leader. When given the task of assembling a team of digital journalists in the 2000s, I had hoped to provide an emerging journalist with an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have. I wanted to give them a transformative moment. But I also needed someone who was ready to engage our readers on this new platform know as social media and also on established blogs. 

I was able to accomplish that goal by hiring two young women I knew could get the job done. They were savvy when it came to social media and multimedia. We were able to keep track of what our website users were saying and were able to correct any misinformation that might have been posted. We were even able to pick up some story ideas and tips from the things the team saw on social media.

Back in the late 2000s, sharing tips and distributing information through social media wasn’t the first choice for our sources, especially local governments. The “fluff” was shared, if anything at all. The available tools were too new and no one really knew what to do with them. But things are different now. Expectations have changed. Not only does social media appear to be the first choice of communication, but compiling information on website blogs is popular as well.

It’s a smart idea to hire a journalist to work in government, whether it be local or state, so the government’s story can be told. In 4 strategies that are defining the future of city communications, the author states that Detroit had hired journalist Aaron Foley as its “chief storyteller.” Foley and his team were able to produce more positive stories about the city. These stories appear online and on cable TV.

Aaron Foley (Bloomberg Cities)

Civic Plus stated in the website article, The Truth About Local Government and Social Media, that “citizens expect social media accounts to be less formal and bi-directional tools that they can use to contact local governments with questions and inquiries, provide feedback, and take part in critical and formative dialogue.”  

This is absolutely true. It’s a two-way street now. Citizens don’t want information to be thrown at them with no opportunity to respond or be heard. They expect it to become a conversation with an immediate response if it’s warranted. There’s evidence of that everyday on Twitter and Facebook.

I was never much of a Twitter user but since I was a digital media manager, in charge of the newspaper’s social media accounts, it made sense that I had an account. I can admit that I have doubled my use of Twitter because our nation’s leaders use it to communicate with Americans. I never thought Twitter would be the preferred method of communication by our leaders. Their Twitter use seemed to explode once Donald Trump was elected president and he insisted on using it as a communication tool. 

Although I personally would rather the president not communicate his opinions, thoughts and directions through Twitter, it has proven to be the most effective way to immediately disseminate information and get a reaction. It’s always interesting to see other Twitter users’ reactions to the president’s tweets. I thought I was the only one who noticed the tweets that were clearly not written by the president vs. the ones that are not. Colin Crowell, vice president of global public policy for Twitter noted in a Bloomberg Cities article that “whatever one thinks of President Trump’s tweets, it’s easy to tell which ones are written by him and which are written by his staff.”

The president’s use of Twitter has caused a chain reaction of political leaders getting onboard. Now it seems that Twitter is the tool of choice for leaders who want to reach constituents or to respond to news or other leaders. Lots of political action goes down on Twitter!

National government leaders along with state and local government leaders are finding that social media is the best option for reaching the public. It can allow them to establish two-way communication and create an online identity. Although I clearly functioned and received my news before the social media era, I can’t imagine not getting instant access to the information. With Twitter and Facebook being at the top of the list, it makes me wonder what’s next.


One thought on “Lollipop Moment Leads to Fulfilling Career

  1. Amanda,

    We seem to share the same lollipop moments with the exception of mines not being fully done. I remember having the same excitement that you describe in this posting about visiting the campus for the first time. Back in 2016 I and my family did a campus tour and this was my first time seeing TROY Trojan Vision News and the journalism department. I instantly knew that Troy was the right college for me. During my first year at Troy, I was able to anchor the Global News segment of Troy Trojan Vision Midday. Over the years I was able to work my way up and become the main anchor on TROY Trojan Vision Nightly news. It took at least two years to be able to reach that milestone. Being a part of Trojan Vision taught me a lot about myself. I learned to not compare my growth and progress and others and most of all patience in knowing that my time would come. Being a student in the J-School taught me things that I didn’t know until now. These past few months reflecting post-graduation has taught me that the classes have prepared me for the workforce. I always wondered what does Adobe InDesign or writing press releases have to do with me being a reporter or news anchor. Now that I have a different outlook on career choices I’m so thankful for those elective courses in the Hall School. I feel because of what I learned I’m now able to apply for more variety of jobs and stand out. I know in life I may encounter a lot of lollipop moments and while some may be bigger than others, a lesson is within.


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