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2021 TEXAS JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR PORTFOLIO
Journalists tell stories, so here's mine.
I spent my high school years telling the stories of Prosper, TX, a small town with a big heart. I connected students, parents and community members by sharing their stories.
I rose through the ranks of Eagle Nation News at Prosper High School by consistently creating quality video stories and eventually led the team to an NSPA Broadcast Pacemaker win in 2020. I broke barriers creating engaging content and doing things like nobody else with the launch of a digital show and producing a show live every day.
I elected to move to a new high school during my senior year in the middle of a pandemic to be a part of something new. I could have stayed at PHS with the well-established program but realized the special opportunity that I had to build something from the ground up. We built an inclusive staff culture, established a program of broadcast excellence called Hill Top News, and I became a person that my school could count on to keep them informed. Within seven weeks of being on the air, the show placed third Best of Show (TAJE) in Texas for broadcast newscasts.
While I have accumulated over 60 awards, created more than 100 video packages and produced over 200 live shows while still in high school, I am far from done making my mark on the journalism world. With every story I create, I do it in hopes that it makes an impact on someone. Every person has a story to tell, and through my passion and hard work, I get the opportunity to tell those stories.
Journalism has left its mark on my life, and now, it's my turn to leave a mark on journalism.
Listening is the first step to building trust with someone and showing them that you care. Journalists can't expect people to open up about some of the biggest challenges in their lives if they don't sit and listen first. Listening is also a critical principle of leadership because you must listen to what the team has to say in order to make educated decisions that benefit the group. The way that I show my team I am interested in their needs and what they have to say is by providing my phone number to each member of the group to call when they need me. I make my team aware that I am always a text away whether they need their story edited or just need a pick me up.
"While Grant might be the leader, he is always listening and wanting to incorporate all the staff's ideas to help make the environment collaborative and team-oriented."
-Anica Hankey, Hill Top News Show Producer
If 2020 showed us anything it's that change is inevitable. Being prepared and equipped with the tools necessary to change with the circumstance makes us more successful in the long run. Learning new skills and brushing up on old ones help us advance our knowledge and better equip us for when things change. I think that people need lifelong learning to advance their skills and stay relevant in turn making them better leaders. One of my favorite ways to expand upon and grow my knowledge is by attending journalism workshops and conventions. Sitting in a conference room and listening to someone much wiser and with more experience helps me learn new skills and allows me to bring them back to my team and share the knowledge.
"He studies the news. He messages, networks and builds relationships with industry professionals to hone his craft. As a student of journalism, Grant takes what he learns and transfers that knowledge to his fellow students."
-Margie Raper, Hill Top News Adviser
A great leader will inspire everyone in an organization to achieve their very best. Inspiring and empowering people to be the best version of themselves will result in them producing the best stories and products they can. The first trait after storyteller that I want to be identified as is "leader". One of my favorite ways to empower my staff is by putting messages on the mirrors of our dressing rooms. A reminder that "You guys killed the show yesterday" keeps our staff ready for the next show that they are going to do and is a great reminder that they are loved and valued in our organization. The single most important factor that differentiates a good leader from a great leader is love.
"Perhaps what I admire most about Grant is his desire to not only be the best he can be but also how he pushes others to be better because of his leadership."
-Dustin Toth, Rock Hill High School Principal
Leading with love means knowing and caring about what inspires people. It’s about caring enough to know what is important to them and helping them succeed. To lead effectively, you must love the people you are leading. It is often the memories that we make outside of doing our live show that I use to show my staff that I care for them. I will be the first to admit, doing a live show every day with only 17 staff members is extremely stressful and doesn't allow for many moments to fool around. COVID-19 has not stopped the way that we celebrate each other and have fun in our newsroom. Kickball, bowling and monthly birthday celebrations are the best ways that we bond together. By having these times together, I hope to show our staff that I care about them and I am always there for them.
"I’m beyond thankful that Grant isn’t just a friend, he's someone whom I know cares about others and wants the best for everyone around him."
-Trois Murphy, Hill Top News Host
Click here to read my personal essay.
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