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Finding a role model in media

October 17, 2010

By now it's probably clear to everyone that I hope to find success in writing one day. It's what I love to do and, hopefully, one day I'll be able to make a career out of it. I don't know if I'll become an investigative reporter or perhaps some other kind of journalist. The route I seem to be going on looks like it may lead me toward becoming a columnist.

Whichever way I go, I know I'll be happy as long as I'm writing. I know it's a competitive field and the key thing is to find a way to set myself a part from the others. All I have to do is keep taking chances. After all, that's how I got to where I am today.

Cindy Paavola, the director of communications at NMU is living proof that taking chances is worth more than we might realize at the time.

This week she visited my advanced news writing class to talk about working with the media.

Cindy started as a journalist, went into public relations, then back to journalism. Now she's back in PR.

It was helpful talking to someone who has been on both sides of the fence. She understands what it is like to be a reporter trying to get information and she also understands the boundaries and limitations of dispensing information.

She explained ways to go about getting information, how to approach companies and so forth.

But, more importantly, I thought the story of how she got her foot in the door was amazing.

Cindy started off at Northern receiving her bachelor's degree in mass communications with minors in sociology and journalism. She went to work as a general reporter for the Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton and then moved to as a marketing liaison.

Like most things worth getting in life, Cindy wasn't just handed these jobs. She had to work for them. She took a lot of heat for being a woman reporting on hockey. People would ignore her on the long bus rides down to the games and they would doubt her abilities as a writer. She said it was hard - at times, unbearable - but, in the end, it was so worth it. Instead of giving up, which is always the easiest thing to do, she pressed on.

"If you have a chance of falling on your face in front of an audience that is really cool ... I say go for it!" she encouraged our class.

Cindy is truly an inspiration to up-and-coming writers. Even though I am only 20, I'm starting to get a taste of the benefits and the downfalls of working in the media. But now I'll tell myself, "If Cindy can do it, I can do it!"

"If I could you each one gift ..." she told our class, "It would be for each of you to jump into a big black hole when you don't know what's going to happen. You have to be brave to be at the top."

Editor's note: Chelsey Roath is a student at Northern Michigan University. Her weekly column on college life in Marquette runs on Sundays. Her e-mail is



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