lakestudentsHow does someone go from graduating with a degree in communication arts—with no connections in the industry—to writing for Atlanta Magazine, the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated (SI) and now CNN?

For Thomas Lake, it was perseverance and the willingness to start out working for a small newspaper in Jesup, GA, where he had to “do everything,” and where he made of lot of mistakes.

Lake, now an enterprise writer for CNN Politics, visited Ivy Hall on November 3rd, first spending time with Dr. Bundy’s Nonfiction I class and then giving a lecture that was open to the SCAD community. Lake was honest about the ups and downs of being a writer, from being let go by SI to being hired by CNN to cover politics…with no experience in covering politics. Lake simply said, “They needed someone to write good stories.” And very few write stories as well as Lake.

A few takeaways from the evening:

Getting the job is great, but remember you have to DO the work; show them why they made the right choice.

There’s a beauty in taking a series of complex events and finding out what’s valuable and what isn’t.

There’s no point in being so objective that you can’t draw a conclusion.

With all the time and research you put in to write a story, you earn a certain amount of authority to make a judgment; in the end, you have to call it like you see it. 

On being a writer, Lake said, “We’re trying to be better than we actually are; doing something we are not supposed to do. Try writing the first line, even if it’s not right. Keep trying. Then the spark comes.”


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