‘17 Journalism alumna Demie Johnson knew that being part of the news was her life path. As a member of NewsLink Indiana, she began her journey as news anchor while being a student at Ball State University. She has always lived for news, and knew it was what she wanted to do in the future. She is now a DayBreak Reporter for Indianapolis’ WISH-TV. We sat down with her to discuss how her time at Ball State set her up for her success, and what happened after CCIM.
Writer: Ashley Curry, Department of Journalism Student • Interviewer: Christopher Zurisk, Telecommunications Student • Video: Ball State UMS
What kind of student were you at Ball State?
It was funny. I came into Ball State knowing that this was what I wanted to do. I lived and breathed news. I was never not thinking about how I could cover a story. If I was out at a coffee shop I was always listening to what people were saying. Then I would try to find a way to turn that into a story. I was very active in NewsLink. I was an anchor and a reporter, and also learned how to produce. Besides that I really didn’t do a whole lot. It was news all the time. Oh, I was also in a sorority. That’s really it, though.
[News] is what I knew I wanted, and that’s what I worked towards.
What was your favorite place on campus?
I spent a lot of time in the Unified Media Lab. It is so cool when you can be in a place with people who think the same way you do and people who have the same goals and aspirations as you, and that is what I found in the UML. I was in a sorority and I met some of my best friends there, but I preferred honing my skill with my new friends in the UML.
With your news friends, you had these connections. Was there a professor that you had a better connection with or that you could go to for mentoring?
There are two professors I still keep in touch with -Phil Bremen and Tim Underhill. I actually went with Tim to the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Workshop in Norman, Oklahoma, which was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I met so many other professionals, who are storytelling everyday and doing what I dreamed of doing while I was a student. I skipped going on a college spring break with all my best friends, so that I could go to that. I never regretted it. It probably wasn’t as fun, but I learned a lot. I made a lot of connections. In a lot of ways, it set me apart and helped me land my first job.
When you think about your time as a first year student, what springs to mind?
It is really funny to go back and watch myself back then because you think you know everything. Then you get in the business for real, and you are like ‘whoa I didn’t know what I was doing. I had no idea’. Going back and watching yourself makes you better.
What were some skills that you learned in the classroom that you took into your professional career?
I say that my biggest skills didn’t happen in the classroom, which is why Ball State is such a great school to come and learn at, if you want to be in this industry. You do have those opportunities to go out and do things that you are going to be doing in the real world. I remember thinking sometimes like this isn’t real news. I don’t know why I’m stressing about this, but it’s good that I did. Now when I am in the field and doing my job ‘for real’, I am able to handle those situations really well and calmly because I have been through similar situations as a student. If you act like you are doing them for real here, then that’s practice. That’s experience.