By Alexandra White, Mass Communication Graduate Student
Austin native Ishmael Johnson attended Texas State University from 2010 to 2014 as a Journalism major. He decided to be a bobcat, originally for the university’s McCoy Business School and its proximity to Austin, but it didn’t take long before he decided to make the switch to Old Main. Since graduating, Johnson has been heavily involved in journalism, both in San Marcos and other cities.
Johnson worked for the San Marcos Daily Record for about two years after graduating from Texas State. He held the positions of reporter and editor during that time, until he moved back to Austin for a few months. He is now working in Irving, Texas on Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine staff. Johnson says it was the luck of knowing someone in the industry that got him to the career he has now. After working with journalism lecturer Holly Wise and her independent solutions journalism organization Voicebox Media, Wise mentioned Johnson’s name for a reporter opportunity with the magazine. Eventually, he was contacted by Dave Campbell’s team when they needed reporters for their debut in spring of 2017.
“[My career goal] is to help grow Dave Campbell’s [publication] from just a magazine brand to a full-fledged media outlet and help grow our still-new basketball magazine into a brand of its own. Eventually, it’s to continue to grow in an editorial and production role. I’ve found that behind-the-scenes stuff is more to my liking,” Johnson said.
This sort of career is what Johnson was hoping to get while he was in school, and during his time at Texas State, he felt like it’s what he was prepared for. A lot of his time is spent editing and critiquing submissions to the magazine, and his experience in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, as well as his role at the San Marcos Daily Record, greatly helped him prepare for this role. All of his heavy lifting begins in the fall, including attending games on the weekend, recording interview and doing weekly write-ups. Johnson has a few pieces of advice for students looking to break into the journalism industry:
- Make sure you’re getting paid for the work you’re doing if someone else is getting paid for it too. Respect what you create because it matters.
- In this industry, black men have to work harder than everyone else to stand out. Women have to work harder than everyone else to stand out. And for black women, you have to be the best and work the hardest, and you most often are.
- Specializing is okay, but it’s a good idea to know how to do everything. For example, if you want to be in broadcast, know how to write a story, too.
- Know the right people from the industry, and learn from them. They’re right about almost everything, and they’ll tell you about breaking into the industry and moving up the ladder. Also, get to know your instructors, lecturers and professors because they have been through it all.
To read more of Johnson’s pieces, head over to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine.