Veteran journalist, former Channel 11 TV news anchor and currently Director, Communication Services – Public Information Office, at the Houston Community College, Debra Mcgaughey visited Texas Southern University on Wednesday April 10, 2019 to speak to journalism students. Texas Southern University is a public Historically black university (HBCU) in the Greater Third Ward area of Houston Texas. Students were given the opportunity to interact with a well renowned journalist in the field. Mcgaughey gave the students very helpful advice about building their career in the journalism field and how to navigate jobs.
Debra Mcgaughey first gave her background to the students. She did a PowerPoint presentation to demonstrate her points. Many students were taking pictures and asking questions and she was very accepting and generous. Mcgaughey answered the students’ questions as she lectured. She spoke about her upbringing as a child and her family life. She explained that at first she was not very interested in journalism but sports. In high school, she was big on basketball and volleyball and that was her biggest interest at the time. She eventually participated in journalistic activities, and got the idea to pursue journalism as a career from people telling her how good she was at the time. She continued to speak on her college career. Mcgaughey told the students about how she attended Boston University after leaving high school.
She took this time to explain to the journalism students the importance of education. Debra Mcgaughey is a very big advocate for education. She believes that getting an education will open up many doors and introduce many opportunities. The students had questions about how they could transition from college to the industry and if she had any suggestions or ideas that they could use while in college. Mcgaughey offered many options including how students could join school newspapers or journalism organizations for internship programs.
Mcgaughey went on to speak about her internship at The New York Times. According to her the challenges were very difficult. She told the class how they must be ready and prepared for such challenges the internship would undoubtedly bring. She explained how it was a very rigorous, competitive, and tasking experience. The New York Times is very fast paced and that can be overwhelming for a young student in the industry. Although, according to Mcgaughey, those are excellent ways to gain experience in the field as well as build connections. Debra unfortunately was unable to stay at The New York Times due to her inexperience. She was told that everyone in the organization worked their way up from other markets and companies. This would make students realize that no matter the circumstances, they have to start from the bottom to make it in the journalism industry.
Mcgaughey briefly spoke about her career. She made a big move from the northeast to down south in Dallas, Texas. She reminisced on how big of a difference Boston and New York to Texas and how everything in Dallas was slower but more friendly. She started off working at The Dallas Morning News in from 1980 to 1984 then moved to KDAF in 1984 to 1986. She eventually made the move to Houston Texas to work for KHOU Channel 11 for 13 years from 1986 to 1999. After KHOU, she started working for The Baylor College of Medicine in the Houston Medical Center as a news producer. Presently she works for the HCC as the Director of Communications.
After her presentation, the students had many questions and comments coming from different angles. She believes that students are the future of the industry.