Journalism Day at FIU: Calvin Hughes Shares His Wisdom

Under the humid East St. Louis sun, a young Calvin Hughes spent afternoons dribbling around the community basketball court, working on his jump shots and perfecting free-throws. Nothing could fathom his determination, for basketball, he believed, was the passport out of a rough neighborhood.

Today, Calvin Hughes is a news anchor on WPLG Local 10, in Miami, Florida. An emmy award-winning journalist, Hughes continues to be determined and hardworking amidst an ever-changing career. Because of his extensive knowledge in the field’s past, present, and future, he was invited to address an audience of young, aspiring journalists as a keynote speaker for Florida Scholastic Press Association’s (FSPA) 44th Annual Journalism Day at Florida International University (FIU) on Oct.14.

He emphasized the importance of developing strong communication skills: “At some point in your life, you will be called upon,” he said, warning the audience that one day, their speaking and writing skills will be tested. Hughes knows first-hand the importance of obtaining effective communication skills in the field of journalism. When he couldn’t obtain a scholarship through his basketball aspirations, Hughes sought fulfillment elsewhere. A teacher who noticed his unique way of telling stories in his writing suggested dabbling with journalism.

He joined the school newspaper, but quickly realized that his basketball slang and street talk wouldn’t cut it.

For hours on end, he’d take the local newspaper and read out loud. He was relentless and eager to perfect his speaking skills. “I had to completely transform the way I spoke. I practiced working on my diction…Just like I worked on my jump shot,” he said, now a seasoned reporter with a confident, booming voice.

Hughes has had a lot of experience with adapting to change, coincidentally the Journalism Day’s theme for the year. He experienced a culture shock when he transitioned from small town reporting as a recent college graduate to covering international news in the diverse city of Miami, Florida.

“In Miami, you have to be concerned about what’s going on … everywhere,” he said.

Not only did he have to adjust to a new city, but also to a new age of technology. He witnessed the field of journalism confront a new generation that receives news from social media networks. His role as a news anchor, in response, changed. He would no longer break the news; instead his job developed into fact checking and serving as the “journalism police.”

He realized that journalism is a transforming market and pointed out that this year’s coverage of the presidential election is an example why: Both presidential candidates announced their bid for presidency on Twitter. Baffled, Hughes looked unto the young audience before him and said, “Your generation has challenged my generation. We’re still trying to figure you out.”

Ultimately, Calvin Hughes has learned over the course of his career that journalism demands a quick adaptation to change. But he reminded those present on Journalism Day that although the field is transforming, one thing will always remain the same: Journalists’ adamant pursuit of the truth.

“The truth is being compromised,” he said. “It’s up to your generation that the future of communication lives on.”

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