Where are they now? Phyllis Fletcher

Phyllis Fletcher

Photo by Anil Kapahi via Viewpoint, Spring 2013 Issue

Phyllis Fletcher graduated in 2011 with a Master of Communication degree that was designed to offer journalists and other mid-career communication professionals a program of study that included communication theory and a special area of interest.

“I studied the sociology of news with Professor Randy Beam, the connection between journalism and literature with Professor Doug Underwood, and communication pedagogy with lecturer Cindy Simmons,” Fletcher explained. “For my final project I researched and produced a radio series on school districts in the Puget Sound region that were hardest hit by the recession.”

While she was a student, Fletcher also contributed to the online black history encyclopedia BlackPast.org. She has been a guest-lecturer in classes like NewsLab and interviewing, and was asked to join the Department of Communication Alumni Board in 2012.

“Through the board I have learned about how alumni can support current students and I’ve met a diverse and active group of fellow Comm grads,” Fletcher said. “We’ve had the satisfaction of raising money to help students in concrete ways and of supporting department goals with guidance and input from the chair, David Domke.”

What have you been up to since graduation? I was promoted to editor at KUOW Public Radio about six months after I graduated.

Explain your typical work day: My colleagues wake me each morning; our newscaster and morning host giving me the latest on my clock radio. From there I catch up with what they know about and have been working on as I check email, news sites and social media on my phone. By the time I get to the KUOW studios I have a handle on what my reporters will be working on for the day and what they need from me to get it accomplished. Throughout the day I’m supporting their field work and am collaborating with them, other editors and producers on longer-range coverage plans. By mid-afternoon I’m doing side-by-side edits with reporters on stories they’re preparing for that day or the next. That means we sit together with a script, a stopwatch and audio clips of their interviews. In this iterative process we make each story as clear and useful to the listener as possible. Some reporters have me engineer or voice-coach as they record their voice tracks for their final mix. I may also help with any details to help our newscasters get these stories to broadcast.

How did you find that job? KUOW managers developed the position. I had to be ready to give up daily reporting and to compete against experienced editors in order to apply for this great job, which I’ve had for two years now.

Do you have any tips on finding a job for those still in school? Take one computer science or information technology class. Even if you have to scrap your way in; even if you have to take it pass/fail. Your goal should be to master one mode of technology as a programmer or producer, and to have it documented on a transcript or with a certificate. Ideally this would be a class offered by the University that you take in your regular schedule. But if you must, take it at night, over the summer or at your expense. If your resume reflects accurately that you have a skill that’s desired in the communication field but is not commonly mastered by entry-level applicants, the benefits you’ll reap are probably obvious before you have finished reading this sentence.

What is the single most important thing to do while still in school to prepare you for the real world? Learn to identify unmet and unrecognized needs.

Now that you’ve had some time to reflect on your time at UW, what advice had you wished you received while in school? Connect with your favorite classmates on social media before your class is done. They will go on to do cool things, and so will you! But you’ll have trouble remembering all their names and finding them by the time you graduate.

Where do you hope to be in five years? I’ve always hoped I’d be able to help people in new and different ways. So far, that has happened. So I’ll stick with that! Why put a label on it now?

Anything else to add? If you’re doing something cool, don’t wait for the Department to find out about it; let them know! Comm is proud of its graduates and wants to toot your horn. You just might have to quietly give a honk yourself first.