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Kevin Schmidt (MSJ18)

Associate Producer at CBS Newspath

Medill alumnus Kevin Schmidt of CBS Newspath

CBS stations across the country rely on content curated at Newspath, their news-gathering hub in New York. Medill alumnus Kevin Schmidt (MSJ18) is one of the people responsible for collecting and sharing that content with all of CBS News. After graduating from Medill, he started as a broadcast associate, and then was promoted after six months to associate producer.

Schmidt’s role requires a unique understanding of different social landscapes, something he learned in his time with the Medill News Service in Washington, D.C. as well as in his practicum at a local news station there. He credits Medill with helping him develop the news sense that’s so essential to his career.

What brought you to Medill for graduate school?

I came to Medill in order to get a fresh start in a career that I knew I wanted to be in for the rest of my professional life. I was already working in the field of journalism, but missed covering hard news and politics especially. The results of the 2016 presidential election really spurred my desire to cover issues that matter and to challenge myself as a journalist. I knew that I wanted to do something big and to be the best at what I did, so I chose the best school to get me there: Medill.

Tell me more about how the Politics specialization played into your Medill experience.

I was able to spend three of my four quarters in Washington through the Politics specialization, so I really got a sense of life as a reporter in D.C. Some of my big takeaways were covering tax reform legislation from Congressional introduction to presidential signature, then covering the subsequent government shutdowns in early 2018. I also embedded with the U.S. Army at Fort Irwin in California while they trained for real-life combat situations. Experiences like these show the complexity of being a political reporter: One day you are chasing down a senator ahead of a key legislative vote, and the next you are riding in a Humvee in the desert.

Were you able to explore reporting outside of the U.S.?

Medill Explores for the Politics specialization took us to Germany and France, with a brief visit to Belgium. We visited the European Command for the U.S. Armed Forces in Stuttgart, Germany. In Paris, we learned and reported on the refugee crisis, and how both the city and some local organizations are responding to it. We wrapped up in Mons, Belgium, the home of NATO SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) where we learned how the U.S. military works with allies to fulfill NATO missions. We were able to speak to journalists, local leaders and military officials to gain invaluable insights into international politics.

What would you say is the best lesson you learned in Medill?

Never miss an opportunity to grab a business card, take someone interesting or useful to coffee, and utilize your resources like the Medill alumni network and the Medill mentoring program. I used the Our Northwestern alumni portal to connect with Medill alums who were in Washington or working at media outlets that I had an interest in.

Did you find any mentors in Medill?

Ellen Shearer is a powerhouse leader, instructor and mentor. My favorite memory of her was when we were on our Medill Explores trip in Paris. We were touring the homeless camps along the Canal Saint-Martin the northern part of the city and I really wanted to do a quick stand-up intro and tag for my video package. Even though our guide and group and kept walking, Shearer stopped with me and gave feedback. As the group was long gone, she had me do my stand-up again and again until it was just right. To her, the most important thing was to get the right shot for the story and for me.

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