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Debra Mcgaughey Visits Texas Southern


HOUSTON - On Wednesday April 10th speaker Debra Mcgaughey, the director of communication services for Houston Community College central, came to Professor Anthony Ogbo’s Introduction to Journalism class at Texas Southern University. She came in order to educate the students about marketing, advertising, and public relations from the field’s perspective, and as they relate to Journalism.

She began by explaining to students her origin and how she became the woman she is today. An interesting tidbit from her past is that the reason she started doing journalism in the first place is due to the fact that one of her English professors, impressed with her writing skills, asked if she had considered journalism, Upon this, she enrolled in Boston University to study journalism.  In her speech she also mentioned that she was an intern for the New York Times while attending college. When asked about the experience as an intern she went on to say “You're right in the thick of it, and they will put you to work. It also gives you an idea of how cutthroat journalism is, especially in large market cities.”
She expressed her desire to stay and have her first job there, but the New York Times staff refused, advising her to “Go to a smaller market, learn all of your information and make all of your mistakes there, and then we might consider taking you back, but you must grow first.” After graduating from the college, she decided to move to Dallas, Texas  to work for the Dallas morning news. In order to assimilate herself into becoming a true reporter, she continuously worked under ‘deadline pressure’. Another method she mentioned is being a peoples’ person. She expressed how imperative it is for journalists to be able to adjust to different types of people and the ability to hold a conversation.

After this, Mrs. Mcgaughey entered the realm of TV news. She was at KHOU Channel 11 Houston for 12 years. She lit up when describing her experience at TV news, “TV news was so much fun! However, it was not always glamorous. It was a lot of work, hard work,” She explained. She told the students that in order to get to that position they would have to learn the medium of television. This involves trying to find a great soundbite. Mrs. Mcgaughey went on to say “every soundbite should be found in five minutes, if not you're just wasting time.” Mrs. Mcgaughey also added that in this day and age you have to be proficient at editing as well as multimedia as a whole.

When she was at Channel 11, she had four children - a condition she described as very rough. “It was fun but very tasking. When you're out doing live shots and I’m eight-to-nine months pregnant, two centimeters dilated about to have this child you kinda don't want to be on a TV screen,” she said. After conceiving her fourth child, she decided that she wanted to move on (or in this case move up) to a TV management position at Higher ED.

She described the position as attainable “if all of your skills are revolved around one thing, creativity; the ability to create shows, the ability to use your own creativity to help further a company, and lastly you have to be able to manage creative people.” According to Mrs. Mcgaughey “You also have to be a strong leader as well as have the ability to deal with people and logistics.” Following this, she became a Public Relations Director for the Houston Community College central campus, the position she is currently holding.

The basic lesson throughout her whole speech was how to persistently be a good writer.In the terms of persistence, she said, “you have to be assertive to get what you want, such as asking questions. You must not be afraid to ask the over-the-top questions in order to get the answer you want. Also, being a good writer is a person's backbone if  he or she has the desire to become a journalist. Expectations remain the same even as a Public Relations and Marketing major.”

As her presentation came to a close, the information she provided was very beneficial for the students, as she reiterated the importance of the use of multimedia, especially compared to how it was back then. “This generation emphasizes the skills of editing and other endeavors of the internet and in order to make it now you have to be excellent in writing as well as thriving in your internet skills”