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Aspiring journalists recieve advice from professionals (WTVD)

Dozens of aspiring journalists got career advice Saturday at UNC-Chapel Hill's William Friday Center.

Some traveled from schools as far away as North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro and East Carolina University in Greenville for the opportunity.

It's an annual event that happens when ABC11 partners with the WTVD Minority Advisory Committee for inspiration and motivation.

This year, an ABC News anchor, Byron Pitts who has close ties to our station traveled many miles, from New York City to be at the event.

Byron Pitts started out as an intern in the ABC11 Newsroom more than 30 years ago, and proudly claims Larry Stogner as one of his mentors.

Now he's reaching back by helping guide aspiring journalists.

Pitts, alongside Eyewitness News anchors, Tisha Powell, Steve Daniels, and Amber Rupinta answered questions for the young journalists.

They also had the chance to get their resumes reviewed by Eyewitness News reporters Stephanie Lopez, Morgan Norwood and Akilah Davis.

Nicholas Bequette, a senior journalism student from ECU, asked the panel for advice on how to approach someone for a story after a personal and devastating loss.

"That was one of the biggest issues I had coming into this field," he told us, "talking to loved ones that have lost somebody."

Tisha Powell mentioned a video that went viral, in the video a reporter was cursed out by a stressed out storm survivor. She said that the situation should be taken as a teachable moment.

Her advice to students? "Pay attention to body language, be aware of when to ask questions, and back away when the time is right."

In the video, the mother expresses that her and her children were exhausted, Tisha recalled.

"And they tell you 'I haven't eaten in five days, I'm standing here with my two children," say 'Let me show you where the food is,' you know? Listen to what they're saying."

Baquette said he'll remember the advice when he's faced with a similar situation: "Understand that they're going through a turning point in their lives, so don't be eager to rush in and get that story. Be human first."

Another student told us why she appreciates the experiences Pitts shared with the group during his keynote remarks. The confident journalist, known today as one of the best writers in the business, used to stutter as a child and young adult.

"I relate to him on a personal level because I have a speech impediment as well," said Yolanda Morgan, a journalism student at NC A&T.

"He struggled with it until he was a junior in college. I'm a sophomore in college, so that spoke to me. It let me know that I'm not weird. He encouraged me to work on it."

She and other aspiring journalists tell us they appreciate having access to people most had only seen on television or online before Saturday's forum and one on one opportunities.
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