A person sits at an anchor desk at a television station.
BGSU senior Claire Mitchell, a weekend morning anchor at 13 Action News, is among several BGSU students working at Toledo area news stations while pursuing journalism degrees. (BGSU photo/Justin Camuso-Stall '14)

BGSU journalism majors launch careers in TV news as students, gaining valuable industry experience

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Their success highlights the strong reputation of the University’s journalism program

By Laren Kowalczyk ‘07

Bowling Green State University senior Claire Mitchell has a coveted position in TV news often reserved for seasoned professionals.

She anchors weekend morning newscasts for 13 Action News, the ABC affiliate in Toledo, and has done so since midway through her junior year, a nod to the caliber of education she has received at BGSU to qualify her for the role.

“I cannot say enough good things about BGSU, the journalism program, our faculty members and the opportunities outside of class to strengthen our skills,” said Mitchell, who emphasized the importance of getting on-air experience at the University’s student-run news program, BG24, the broadcast journalism division of BG Falcon Media.

“BG24 has been crucial to my growth as a reporter and anchor.”

Mitchell is among several BGSU students working at Toledo area news stations while pursuing journalism degrees. Their success highlights the reputation of the accredited BGSU journalism program in preparing students for professional careers in media. The University is home to one of only three ACEJMC-accredited programs in Ohio.

“BGSU has a long tradition of journalistic excellence,” said Karl Smith, Falcon Media manager. “Local media organizations know that BGSU students have the knowledge and practical experience that make them assets to their organizations.”

A person sitting behind an anchor desk reporting the news.
Claire Mitchell credits her on-air experience at the BGSU student-run news program, BG24, with helping qualify her for the anchor position at 13 Action News. (BGSU photo/Justin Camuso-Stall '14)

Highly-capable students

BGSU senior Jessi Oberski works behind the scenes at 13 Action News as the evening weekend producer and essentially designs the newscast. She chooses the stories and their hierarchy, incorporates graphics into the broadcast to aid in visually telling the story and edits the video.

Fellow journalism majors Laura Sandlin and Steve Iwanek are multi-skilled journalists at WTOL 11, Toledo's CBS affiliate. They utilize numerous skills learned at BGSU, including shooting video, reporting, writing and editing.

“BGSU is doing something right,” said Dave Kaplar, news director at 13 Action News. “Our bar is high. We’re hiring people based on their ability to do the job, and BGSU students have proven they are highly capable.”  

Andrew Asmus ‘06, assistant news director at WTOL 11 and a BGSU journalism alumnus, echoed a similar sentiment. He said BGSU students are well prepared for the fast pace of TV news.

“The education BGSU provides is fantastic. The University does a good job of preparing students for the real world,” Asmus said. “Even though they haven’t graduated, students are still expected to adhere to the same high standards we set for everyone else at the station.”

A person standing in front of a screen while reporting for a television station.
Laura Sandlin began working as a multi-skilled journalist at WTOL in November 2023 while pursuing a journalism degree from BGSU. (BGSU photo/Justin Camuso-Stall '14)

Sandlin, who began working at WTOL in November 2023, said she views her early success in the news industry as a reflection of the University’s journalism program. 

“It takes a lot of hard work to get these positions,” she said. “I'm just so proud that BGSU has prepared us so well that these local TV stations want to hire us.”

Sandlin said she also appreciates how her roles as a student and professional serve one another.

“It’s exciting to see how I’ve been able to strengthen the skills I’ve learned in the classroom within a professional setting while incorporating what I’ve learned at the station into the classroom. It’s a very cool back-and-forth relationship.”

A person holds a microphone while being recorded for a TV news broadcast.
BGSU senior Steve Iwanek has worked at WTOL 11 since January and will join Toledo's CBS affiliate full-time after graduating in April. (BGSU photo/Justin Camuso-Stall '14)

On-the-job experience

Iwanek said that his classroom education was an introduction to the incomparable on-the-job training he receives through his jobs with BG Falcon Media and WTOL 11.

Iwanek has worked at BG24 since his freshman year and has been the sports content director for BG Falcon Media for the past two years, helping to build his on-camera confidence and improve his storytelling abilities.

“Steve is one of the few students who have anchored and reported on BG24 since his freshman year, which has contributed significantly to his growth as a journalist,” said Jasmine Crighton, BG24 advisor and an associate teaching professor in the School of Media and Communication.

Iwanek became a part-time reporter for WTOL 11 in January and covers various feature stories and breaking news. Iwanek will join the station full-time after graduating in April.

“It’s just the nature of the job,” he said. “The classroom education is important in providing us a strong foundation, but you have to go out and report on stories to really develop and refine your on-camera presence and interviewing skills.”

A person wearing a headset sits in a TV news control room.
BGSU senior Jessi Oberski works behind the scenes at 13 Action News as the evening weekend producer and designs the newscast.(BGSU photo/Justin Camuso-Stall '14)

Oberski, who produces the evening weekend newscasts at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. at 13 Action News, said the combination of coursework and her job as executive producer at BG24 has contributed to her success professionally.

She said learning to adapt to the pressure of live news has also been instrumental in her growth. 

“I’m creating something that thousands of viewers see, and I think that’s really special,” she said. “It’s an opportunity you can’t put a value on. There are times when things get stressful, but the more I’m in those situations, the easier it gets to work through them.”

After graduating in April, Oberski will move to Fort Myers, Florida, to work as a news producer at WBBH-TV NBC2. She said her producing experience at 13 Action News helped her secure a position in the larger market.

Mitchell will move into a full-time role at 13 Action News after graduation. She’ll continue anchoring the weekend morning newscasts and will anchor during weekday mornings a few days a week.

Getting emotional while reflecting on her time at BGSU, Mitchell said she credits the University with shaping her future in journalism.

“BGSU has changed my life,” she said. “I love everything that BGSU stands for. It will always hold a special place in my heart.”

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349

Updated: 04/23/2024 02:34PM