WKAR news director embraces “digital” future, says “you can’t tell a story if you can’t write”
WKAR Public Media’s digital news director Reginald Hardwick was born in Vietnam “and was one of the Amerasian children left in an orphanage” and then adopted by a family in Colorado when he was three months old. He has family ties to Michigan, though, and always remembers his family being voracious news consumers.
“I caught the journalism bug in junior high,” he says. And he worked for 17 years before coming to WKAR as a producer and manager at the NBC TV affiliate in Dallas. Hardwick became attracted to the storytelling style of public broadcasting and welcomed the opportunity to join WKAR and return to Michigan. Now he’s working to merge his fast-paced TV news background with the iconic public radio style to produce more local news programming. This is leading to more local news content during WKAR’s flagship NPR news programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
It’s no accident that “digital” is the first word in Hardwick’s title. “It’s crucial for journalists to be in all spaces these days. With social media, people are demanding to know more about the news right away as well as hear the stories on our air.”
Hardwick believes journalism is alive and well in the age of fake news.
“It’s about us searching for and reporting the truth and being transparent about where we get our information; that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the technology, and there’s a lot more interactivity and certainly more news sources. And not all those sources are held to the same journalistic standards.
“Not necessarily is everybody a journalist. There’s an important distinction. I love the idea of people being eye witnesses with their phones, but I don’t necessarily call them digital journalists. Journalism requires training and knowing how to approach topics and ask questions.”
Hardwick says his “number one piece of advice” for young people who want to get into journalism and media “is to shadow true journalists.” It’s not always as glamorous as some assume. And he advises students to learn to do a lot of things and master a lot of skills.
“And know that fundamentally, whether it’s print or broadcasting, is all about the writing. Even though people on TV and radio are talkers, you can’t tell a story if you don’t know how to write.”
Hardwick says he really hopes to engage more with the WKAR audience.
“Tell us your story ideas. Let us know what’s happening in your community. I’m looking forward to helping tell mid-Michigan’s story with our great staff.”
MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 94.5 FM and AM 870.