Aim high. It’s important to always shoot for the stars. I wish I realized that I can achieve and deserve far more than I gave myself credit for. I took smaller steps in the beginning of my career, when in all reality I probably could have made some leaps. Don’t think you need to follow the “normal” journey or “expected way’’. Make your own.
As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Journalist”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle Grossman.
Danielle Grossman is an established journalist and publicist with over a decade of experience. She has appeared on NBC stations across the country and was also featured on the TODAY Show for her coverage of the tornado damage in Ohio. She is also the founder and CEO of a resale company called, Bridesy. Danielle is a graduate of Temple University where she got her degree in Broadcast Journalism. She currently resides in Tampa, Florida.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I discovered my passion for journalism my Sophomore year of college. I was always a curious person, loved writing and was a natural born “performer”. I decided I wanted to be a broadcast journalist and nothing was going to get in my way. I applied to nearly 200 positions at TV stations across the nation my senior year of college, finally landing my first job as a reporter and anchor at the NBC affiliate in Rapid City, South Dakota. I looked at that year and a half as a “paid” Masters Degree program. I barely made enough money to pay for my basic necessities. Many don’t realize how little you make in those first few years as a broadcast journalist. I was there for the experience. That environment allowed me to grow, make mistakes, learn and develop who I was as a journalist. From there I moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where I spent 4 years. I then moved to Lafayette, Louisiana where I helped develop the new NBC affiliate from the ground up. Not only did I help launch the news programming, I helped hire an entire new team, train on all fronts and I anchored the evening news broadcasts. I took my final leap of faith in the industry and moved to Columbus, Ohio. During my time there I had my first opportunity to be featured on the TODAY Show. I was also the first to develop a community segment on our morning show. I had the chance to work with local businesses and people. I attended events, previewed festivals and had a lot of fun, even though the hours were pretty brutal.
The broadcast news industry is not for everyone. It can be a stressful, exhausting and lonely career. I moved every 2–3 years for well over a decade. I finally decided to focus on my family and take a step back from the chaos. Now, I am working as a senior publicist for OTTER PR, helping publicists find the real stories they can pitch to reporters. I am also working freelance for CNN Newsource as a writer and producer.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
I’ve covered everything from homicides, the Olympics, natural disasters, major elections and local scandals. I can’t say one story was more interesting than the other, mainly because everything I saw was so different that it’s hard to compare. I did get the chance to tell some pretty amazing stories over the course of 11 years on air. One story I will never forget is that of a young man who, at the age of 35, found out his dad was not his biological father. He proceeded to join 23 and me to find some health history he had been searching for. He eventually found some siblings he never knew he had. Two years into his journey he found over a dozen. With the help of the online ancestry programs he found a family he never knew he had and now they reunite once a year. Unfortunately, more of the stories we cover are heart wrenching, devastating and simply sad. I tried to relish in those positive, uplifting stories that came around every so often.
Can you share the funniest mistake that you made when you first started? Can you share the lesson you learned from it?
I am grateful I haven’t made any major mistakes. I have made a few minor mistakes during live shots or while I was anchoring such as mispronouncing a few names and places. Once I said that a woman mauled a lion when the script clearly said the latter. Looking back, I wish I wrote down the small mistakes so I can look back and laugh a little. We’re all human after all.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am thrilled to be working as a writer and producer for CNN. I am consistently writing new stories and challenging my abilities as a journalist. It is a change of pace from working in a station and the field. I am using my skills as a journalist to help publicists as well. Working with OTTER PR, I get to work with writers on crafting pitches that will truly make an impact and spark the interest of journalists across the country. I also get to connect with some amazing entrepreneurs and thought leaders across the country who are looking to share some knowledge and make an impact.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I have met multiple celebrities, politicians and just normal amazing humans. I have met so many inspiring people in all the communities I have lived in. I have to say Joe Exotic was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. I will leave it right there.
When I was covering Hurricane Harvey, I met some people who dropped everything they had to help people who had been affected by the storm. The amount of selfless people I encounter is unbelievable. Meeting people like that only makes me want to work to become a better version of myself.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in journalism?
Make sure this career is something you truly want to do. I didn’t realize that the struggle sometimes outweighs the joy in this profession. Local news has changed dramatically over the past decade. To be blunt, [many] stations are “casting” for roles instead of hiring the most qualified. It’s common that a station will also hire less experienced people so they can pay them less. To succeed as a journalist,, you not only have to truly love what to do but also have thick skin. You can’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. If you decide journalism is the career for you, explore your options and intern at multiple stations. Each station is different and will give you a different outlook.
What advice would you give to your colleagues in the industry, to thrive and not “burnout”?
Take care of yourself, make sure you move your body, fuel your body and disconnect. I often neglected my mental and physical health because of how much time I put into my career. Career advancement was all I thought about so I would log 50–60 hours a week with no overtime in some cases (which I now realize is illegal and unhealthy in many ways).
It’s easy to grab gas station food when you’re in the field but preparing food ahead of time will not only give you better energy but also help you save money.
Make sure you take at least 1 or 2 days a week and disconnect. It’s easy to constantly check the news and your work emails in this industry when you’re off the clock. For your mental health, disconnect from work and focus on something that brings you joy. Getting consumed by work will not only stress you out but it will quickly get old.
To thrive, you need to focus on what brings you some joy. If you enjoy covering health news, vocalize that to your boss. It may take a few years to find your niche, but once you do make sure it’s known that’s what you excel in and that’s what you care about. You very well may not get to do it all the time but knowing you can cover a topic you are passionate about will give you some peace of mind and keep you energized.
These are just some small words of wisdom I wish I got when I was just starting my career in news. Obviously, the best advice for working in broadcast news, magazines and online publications varies but all of these tips translate for any journalist.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have tried to use my platform to bring awareness to organizations in the communities I have lived in that do some amazing things. I have also helped people looking for answers or who may need some help.
I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?
It is most definitely not an easy job. My passion for making a difference and telling stories were what kept me going everyday. If one of my stories made an impact in someone’s life, raised money for a great cause, solved a problem or brought people closer together, I felt fulfilled. Those small changes I made in people’s lives pushed me to keep finding answers and telling the stories of those who were often overlooked.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins. This book has changed the way I look at my life. I get out of bed sooner and am a more productive human. I make better decisions and don’t hesitate when I believe in something. It has shown me how to act on my goals and not just wait for them to come to fruition.
Ok wonderful. Thank you for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Aim high. It’s important to always shoot for the stars. I wish I realized that I can achieve and deserve far more than I gave myself credit for. I took smaller steps in the beginning of my career, when in all reality I probably could have made some leaps. Don’t think you need to follow the “normal” journey or “expected way’’. Make your own.
- Don’t settle. You should never settle. You shouldn’t take a job because you think you have to or you are running out of time. After my 3rd job, I took a position at a station I didn’t necessarily want to work at and I didn’t get any sort of raise. Who takes a job, moves across the country and signs a contract to just make a later move in their career? I did. I regret not taking a step back and waiting for something I deserved and was excited about.
- Learn everything. Be a sponge. Soak up all the information and knowledge you can. The more skills you acquire in the beginning the more valuable you will be. I did do this and this is one piece of advice I had to learn on my own. I learned how to do it all. I could produce, write, shoot, edit, report and anchor by my second market. Even if it may not be in your job description, learn how to do it. It may come in handy one day or be the difference between you and a pay raise or promotion.
- Take a break and ask for one. It is okay to rest. It’s okay to step back for a minute and focus on yourself. I worked so hard and always went above and beyond knowing inside, I was exhausted. I wish I asked for a break, a day off or just a moment of rest when I was about to break. There is only so much coffee you can drink before you run out of fuel.
- Family first. Work and your career are great but in the end family will always be the most important. Don’t miss out on the special moments with your family because of your job. In the news, you will work a lot of holidays and weekends but sometimes you need to prioritize what’s important. This is something that hits home for me. My mom battled pancreatic cancer for two years. I only saw her for a weekend every few months. It took a nurse saying she was in her final stages of life for me to leave my job and just be with her in those final moments. I regret not taking a step back sooner to spend more time with her. I regret not asking for a long weekend more often. I regret working at a job across the country.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
This is an awesome yet hard question! I have thought about this a few times. I know once I get to a place where I have the time and some resources I would love to give back in some way. I believe an organization that can help young women get ready for the workforce or college can change lives. I was never guided before college about finances, resume writing, interviews ect. I would love to work with young women, provide them with clothing they may need for an interview, give them the skills to get that job and of course educate them about all things finance literacy and how to be successful.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Hoda Ktob. Let me tell you, this woman is so inspiring, positive and intelligent. She has always been a huge inspiration to me as a journalist. I would love to hear about her experiences in small town news and her journey to where she is today. Not only is she a phenomenal journalist, she is a fabulous mother. She is one woman I think every young woman should look up to.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow me:
Instagram & Facebook: @TheDanielleGrossman
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Danielle Grossman: Five Things You Need To Thrive & Succeed As A Journalist was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.