Alumni give advice to students

Hailey Lawrence, Journalsim Student

There are many ways that people can describe journalism, and over time there have been many quotable quotes to describe it. For instance, Wilbur F. Storey said that “it is a newspaper’s duty to print the news and raise hell.”

Alumni of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Department of Journalism have many words of wisdom to share about being a journalist. Here’s what they have to say.

Patrick Durkin
Patrick Durkin

Former Editor for Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine, Outdoors Column Writer

“To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, facts and truth don’t change according to people’s willingness to stomach them. Journalists must write with facts, knowledge and documented research. We can’t wing it. If you write with strength and integrity, most people recognize it. If you try to please everyone, you please no one.”

Patrick Durkin was just leaving the Navy in 1980 when he decided to pursue a career in journalism. He enrolled at UW Oshkosh in 1981 and graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in English and political science. While studying journalism, Durkin was a copy editor, reporter, and column writer for The Advance-Titan. After college, Durkin wrote for the Oshkosh Northwestern as a sports and education writer, while additionally writing and editing the outdoors section of the paper.
Durkin’s ultimate goal was to be an outdoors writer for a major publication. In 1991, Durkin became the editor for Deer & Deer Hunting magazine. He worked there for 10 years until he started freelancing in 2001. Durkin now writes an outdoors column that appears in 17 Wisconsin newspapers and writes feature articles for publications including American Hunter and Inside Archery.

Durkin’s greatest advice for aspiring journalists would be to be flexible and to keep learning. He also says that writing with strength and integrity is necessary to be recognized as a respected journalist.

Mary Bergin
Mary Bergin

Food & Travel Writer and Photographer

“I’m a big believer in being able to do whatever you aspire, if you want it enough and realize that personal sacrifices – some major – will be necessary along the way. When you get the courage to take the right risks, you mold a journalism career to match your personal passions [and] interests.”

Mary Bergin went from being a nursing major to a veterinary medicine major before deciding to be a journalism major in 1973. During her time at UW Oshkosh, Bergin was an editor at The Advance-Titan and a member of Sigma Delta Chi, now known as the Society of Professional Journalists. After she graduated in 1978, Bergin worked at the Oshkosh Northwestern as an editorial assistant. Bergin then went to work at The Capital Times in Madison for 20 years, which she said was one of her proudest moments as a journalist.

In 2002, Bergin also decided to freelance and followed her passion for food and travel. She has published multiple books and received the Lowell Thomas Award in 2015 for a Chicago Tribune article she wrote on a bratwurst museum in Germany. Bergin continues her love for food and travel with her weekly “Roads Traveled” column about her independent travels, as well as her culinary commentary.

Bergin says that it is an honor and a privilege to tell the stories of average people. She also says that being a journalist is about taking risks and going out of your comfort zone.

Megan Esau
Megan Esau

Proposal Support Specialist for Fox World Travel

“We want to share stories and we want to share the truth and contribute to a more educated world. I think staying strong in this profession just comes from knowing that you are in it for good reason, and that you’re here to share the truth and fight the real fake news that’s out there.”

Megan Esau originally had a minor in journalism before making it her major in 2015. What ultimately made her decide to make it become her major was taking a Writing for the Media class. During her time at UW Oshkosh, Esau was a copy editor for the A-T and also worked at the Writing Center. She graduated in 2016 and went to work full-time at EAA after previously being an editorial intern there. Esau said she had many opportunities at EAA, including meeting seven of the Apollo astronauts and the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force. In August 2018, she moved to Fox World Travel as a proposal support specialist.

Esau says that it is important for students to challenge themselves and to see how far they are willing to take that challenge. Esau also says that making the world more educated is the most important part of being a journalist.

Patrick Stiegman
Patrick Stiegman

Vice President/Editorial Director of Global Digital Content for ESPN

“Identify, adapt and overcome. Be curious, be thoughtful, be open-minded, be committed to the task. The rewards will follow.”

Patrick Stiegman always had a passion for journalism and the accredited journalism program at UW Oshkosh is what made him decide to enroll here. During his time at Oshkosh, Stiegman said journalism was everything to him — from being the editor and sports editor of the The Advance Titan, to working at the Oshkosh Northwestern covering sports. After graduating in 1988, Stiegman went to write for many ro newspapers including the Wausau Daily Herald and the Wisconsin State Journal before joining the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Stiegman then went to work for ESPN as executive editor, editor-in-chief, and now is the editorial director of global digital content. As a sports journalist, Stiegman has covered events ranging from the Olympics to Super Bowls. Stiegman says the best part about being a sports journalist is that he gets to capture the human spirit and tell stories that change people’s lives.

Stiegman’s advice for aspiring journalists is to be fully committed to being a journalist to get any results. He also says the best part about being a journalist is that journalists serve and humanize the world and bring different perspectives to readers.

Scott Bellile
Scott Bellile

Editor of the New London Press Star

“Sometimes as a journalist you have to make the call to … focus your efforts on informing the people who sincerely care. And you do your absolute best to report well and responsibly in hopes that your fiercest critics’ arguments have no weight.”

Scott Bellile had a passion for reading and writing, which made him decide to pursue journalism at UW Oshkosh. At Oshkosh, Bellile was the club secretary for SPJ, the Society of Professional Journalists, and was the assistant news editor and a reporter for The Advance-Titan. When Bellile graduated in 2015, he knew he wanted to be a community news reporter and moved back to his hometown in New London. He worked as a sports writer for the New London Star. In 2017, Bellile was promoted to editor for the Press Star and its sister publication, the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette. Bellile says that he loves being a community reporter because he gets to preserve his community’s history for future generations to look back at.

Bellile says that the one thing that a journalist should do is to never leave a reader confused or with a question unanswered. He also says that readers still value learning facts and being informed so journalists can’t let them down.