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Tolly Taylor (MSJ16)

Reporter, WSBT CBS News

tolly-taylor.jpgAn English literature major at a liberal arts college, Tolly Taylor (MSJ16) decided during his senior year that he wanted to pursue a career in journalism. After looking at a number of graduate journalism programs, Taylor ultimately chose Medill because it would allow him to pursue his interests in both sports and politics and provide unique opportunities. After starting his career in print journalism, Taylor is now a reporter for WSBT CBS News.

Tell us about your current position.
I'm a general reporter for WSBT TV in Indiana. I started this position in spring 2019. I cover all types of stories, and I cover a lot in the South Bend school district. I work weekdays and am on the four, five or six p.m. shows, or sometimes all of them.

How did you end up at Medill?
I looked at eight graduate journalism programs. I visited Medill, and I was really impressed with Medill right away. It seemed like it would give me the flexibility to follow the two paths that I wanted. I wanted to toe the line between print and broadcast, and Medill was flexible enough to allow me to do that.

I also wanted to be able to cover a range of subjects. Sports and politics are two biggest passions of mine, and Medill was also flexible enough to allow me to pursue both in different ways. I quickly zeroed in on that.

What are some of your favorite experiences from Medill?
There are so many. I got to cover the NFL Draft and the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. That was unparalleled, and there weren't any other graduate programs that were offering that kind of access and real-world experience. That was very attractive.

I got to go to Colorado Springs and stay at the Olympic Training Center. We stayed on the grounds. Waking up and going to breakfast and having a bunch of Olympic athletes around you is unbelievable. We were there for about a week. That immersion was pretty remarkable.

I spent the summer of 2016 at Medill’s campus in D.C. Having multiple campuses was really appealing to me when I was looking at schools. When I was in D.C., I got published by SB Nation, USA Today and Vice Sports. I got to pitch stories all over. The fact that I was coming out of grad school and I already had published work at these amazing places was a huge leg up. I would say that was my favorite quarter. It was an awesome experience.

How did you end up at WSBT?
WSBT came to me. I had enough print and broadcast work for a reel when I graduated from Medill. I had given it to a television network recruiter in 2016. He held on to it and followed what I had done. He sent it to the news director at WSBT when he was looking for a new reporter, and the news director then reached out to me and brought me in for an interview. Then they offered me the job.

After I left Medill, all my work was in print. When the WSBT broadcast position came up, I was thankful for that skillset I got at Medill. I’m fortunate that I went to Medill where I got to do both print and broadcast--at a lot of the other programs I was looking at wanted you to pick and stick with one. Medill asked, “What, are you interested in? What do you think is going to make you the best journalist? What are your aspirations?” That really stuck with me.

How has the Medill alumni network helped you in your career?
The alumni network helped me get a freelancing position at the Chicago Tribune. I also freelanced a few times for the Detroit Free Press, and the Medill network helped me get my foot in the door there as well.

What advice do you have for someone pursuing a graduate degree in journalism?
I encourage people to try to diversify their skillsets. Even if you think you only want to be a print reporter or only want to be a broadcast reporter, or radio, or whatever it might be, explore the other types of media too.

I think as my path so far has shown, it's really valuable to have a diverse skillset. I also started a podcast with a professor of social work at the University of Michigan, and I now run and co-host a podcast with her. I wouldn't be able to do that if I hadn't learned those skills at Medill.

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