Having worked for more than 20 years in TV news, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith spoke enthusiastically about his job and the future of journalism before a crowd at the University of Mississippi.
Smith says he got into the news business with one simple goal.
“I try to find out what’s up and I tell people about it,” Smith said.
The sometimes polarizing Smith took a fairly traditional path to his network news job. He started out in a bureau job at a station in Panama City, Fla.. He worked his way through several Florida markets before eventually joining Fox in 1996.
Smith acknowledged that it’s a tough time for journalists to find jobs, but instead of sympathizing he offered some tough love.
“You’d better know what you’re doing,” Smith said. “Put your backpack on and get on the bus. You need to have a passion and it better not be for money.”
Smith said though journalism is going through a period of upheaval, “from this will rise the next big thing.”
He told student journalists to embrace multimedia, encouraging them to blog and post content on YouTube every day. He also talked about the need for accuracy in journalism.
“If I didn’t see it, I attribute it. If I can’t attribute it, I don’t report it,” Smith said.
Smith touched on the issue of fairness in reporting, too. He criticized the Huffington Post for the way the publication handled some of his reporting on the health care reform plans.
Smith also advised the young journalists in the room to train themselves to look for something good, something uplifting, even while reporting the toughest stories.
“The six o’clock news is a meal,” Smith said. “It’s easier to get through that dry, tough steak if you know that banana puddin’ is at the end.”