Susannah Sudborough is a third semester graduate student at Boston University majoring in journalism on top of that, she is currently working as the managing editor of the BU News Service. The Communicator sat down with Susannah to learn about her path into the world of journalism.
Tina Wang: A lot of students are really lost when it comes to choosing a career path. How did you discover your call to journalism?
Susannah Sudborough: For a long time, I just did not know what the path was. I am interested in so many things. For a long time, I was trained to be a classical vocalist and an actor. I am interested in music, politics, and history. I can’t hinge down to what will make me fulfilled. I worked retail for a while and then customer service. I was good at it, but then I had an existential crisis about not using my talents well, so I decided to go to grad school. For a while, I thought I wanted to go into philosophy (laughs). I wasn’t so sure about this decision until my first couple of weeks at COM. I wish I could have figured it out sooner, but I am glad I am on that path now.
TW: What made you see finally yourself as a journalist?
SS: Once I went into it, I realized that I could pursue a lot of my interests through journalism by reporting on them. When I write and report, I feel like my life is worthwhile, because I am keeping people informed and learning. People don’t realize how much our lives are impacted by journalism. For me, being a part of that, even if only a small part, makes me feel like I am contributing something to society.
TW: You have rich experiences covering all kinds of news stories. Can you tell me about the most memorable experience you had?
SS: Last October, I went to an Elizabeth Warren rally for BU News Service. I ended up in a press meeting with one other journalist; we both were very nervous. Even though I was really nervous, when the other journalist stopped, I dove right in. That was a really cool feeling. I actually talked directly to Elizabeth Warren and she treated me like a real journalist.
TW: What has been a turning point or a significant moment in your career as a journalist?
SS: The biggest change so far has been becoming a managing editor for The BU News Service. I suddenly understood a lot of feedback that I used to get as a writer. I finally see what the editors saw as a problem in my stories and understand why they made me go back and do more work on it. It is both satisfying and frustrating. For me, I see that everything on BU News Service’s website as a representative of the team. I want everything that goes up there to be as good as it can be. We also have the duty to writers to make sure that nothing goes up under their bylines that is not great.
TW: What are your favorite parts of being the managing editor for BU News Service?
SS: Getting to teach people. If something does not work out in journalism, I would love to become a professor at a journalism school. I also enjoy being able to steer the publication in a way that I think it needs to go and being able to apply a broader vision for something. I have never been able to do that before.
When I became the managing editor, I knew I really wanted to do two things. I wanted to generate more original content and have a team of writers who are committed to and doing regular content (building a portfolio). The second thing that I really wanted to focus on was growing new writers. I make sure that when we make class visits to pitch BUNS, we go to undergrad classes, because I am just as happy to teach freshmen as I am to teach new graduate students.
TW: How do you balance your work and study since you have also been working as a web producer for CBS Boston?
SS: The work and study balance is not as hard as the work and sleep balance or the work and friend balance. I have never really struggled to get the work done for school, but it is always a trouble finding time to sleep and hanging out with my friends. You know what, not even hanging out with my friends, but spending time with myself. I don’t know whether there is a way to balance it, but I guess you just keep going and save the time you actually have.
TW: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
SS: Honestly, I don’t know. Hopefully, I will be writing and reporting somewhere and make enough money to have a house and kids someday. It’s hard to come by money in journalism (laughs).
TW: Is there any other advice you’d like to share?
SS: Don’t stay in the classroom and go out to do journalism as much as you can. And, don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t not do it because you are afraid that you are going to suck. You will suck and that’s fine. You will get better (laughs).
Tina Wang, Staff Writer
Tina is an advertising senior in COM who has a journalist dream. She has reported for BUTV10 for three years, specializing in Sino-American relation features and Q&As. As an international student from China, she enjoys telling the stories about humanity and art from a unique cultural perspective.