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University of Missouri – Columbia

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J.D. Pruess is a 6-time Emmy award winning sports producer and reporter who has worked for major networks like ESPN & Fox Sports Net and currently works in Los Angeles for a professional sports team’s broadcast department. In this video he tells us about his experience at one of the best Journalism Schools in the county, The University of Missouri.

Video Transcript

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Brian Clapp, You graduated from the esteemed journalism program at the University of Missouri, if I was a 16 year old young adult with a passion for sports and television, why would you recommend I go to Missouri?

J.D. Pruess: Well Brian I could sit here and talk about the University of Missouri Journalism School for 45 minutes or 45 days I love it so much and it really changed my life in such a positive way. When I was 16 years old I was growing up on the east coast and had never even been or really heard of Missouri (laughing) outside of maybe hearing their name in the NCAA tournament once a year.

My mom is a journalist and she asked around for me about the best journalism schools and everyone she talked to told her the best journalism school in the country is at the University of Missouri. After looking into it, I found out that the broadcast journalism program at the University of Missouri School of Journalism was in fact considered the top program in the country. Once I got in, I actually accepted before I had even stepped foot on the campus! It changed my life forever.

The University of Missouri journalism program is truly remarkable; it is still the only program in the country that owns a local TV affiliate. The University of Missouri actually owns KOMU-TV the local NBC affiliate. Which allows students from the time they are juniors on to work as anchors, producers, reporters, directors at a major network affiliate in market #150 which is a pretty good sized market considering there are only 215 markets.

The experience you get is remarkable; at University of Missouri if you really work hard you are going to get rewarded. When I was there and I showed how hard I was willing to work I got more and more opportunities, its not always like that in the real world, but hard work pays off in the University of Missouri Journalism Program. If you are really dedicated, you can be a success there. Every kid I ever meet who asks me where they should study journalism and get great opportunities on the broadcasting side I tell them to go to University of Missouri. Those who have gone have thanked me for it.

Brian Clapp, We both know that hands-on experience is so important to starting a career in television, what it sounds like you are telling me is that at the University of Missouri, being able to get that experience in a live working newsroom is the ‘game changer’ that University of Missouri provides for its broadcast journalism students.

J.D. Pruess: Absolutely, there is nothing wrong with schools that focus on theory where students mostly get their experience from internships, I interned at ESPN while at University of Missouri, and it allowed me to see how things worked at a bigger operation. But to really be really hands-on doing things only gets you better. The ability to make mistakes that will make you better in the long run is really important. It’s a fact that if you make a big mistake when the stakes are big, that you aren’t going to make that mistake again. The stakes are high at University of Missouri, so that ability to make some errors helps to refine who you are as a journalist. That’s the real world, at the age of 20, 21 years old University of Missouri gives you real world experience in a working broadcast operation where the audience is real and will complain to the news director if they don’t like what they are seeing. That is a unique experience.