At the recent Florida Media Conference in Orlando, FMA honored Teaghan Skulszki of Florida State University as its 2018 recipient of the Doug Damerst Award (which honors the life of the longtime editor-in-chief at Florida Realtor). Skulszki—who plans to graduate in May 2020 with degrees in media communication studies, and editing, writing and media—touches on her passion for the written word, her future and more.
FMA: What inspired you to pursue journalism/communications as a career?
Teaghan Skulszki: I was very interested in literature in high school. I have to thank my high school English teacher, Walter Desmond, who helped me realize my interest. He started out by giving me poems to analyze, from Poe to Plath, and in my junior year we dissected the theory of time in The Great Gatsby, and I fell in love with the analyzation of literature. I wanted to turn this into a career and knew I enjoyed writing very much, so I turned to journalism. I also have my mom to thank; she is a teacher, and I get the enjoyment of teaching others from her. I know that through journalism I can teach others about the world—and that is exactly what I plan to do.
FMA: What are your professors telling you about the future of our industry?
TS: A lot of my professors and I have debated over the “journalism is dead” quote, which of course, I do not believe. Life is not stagnant, it changes and transforms, as is journalism. We are in an age of adaptation, and print may be going out of style, but journalism itself is transforming as a whole. Now, you have access to hundreds of articles at your fingertips in minutes. We can conserve paper by eliminating print and transforming it to the screen. Our messages continue to stand, the medium by which we deliver them is not what makes the content so important.
FMA: Which interviews/stories have had the most impact on you so far?
TS: For Evolve magazine this spring, I wrote an article on the benefits of a break-up. For this, I really had to dig into myself and reflect on how my past break-ups have helped me grow as a person. I wanted to take the mistakes I have made and turn them into positive solutions—solutions that others could relate to as well.
FMA: What jobs do you want to pursue after graduating?
TS: I think exploration is important; sheltering [yourself] can be the biggest downfall in life. We have such a big world, and there are so many different ways to explore it through food, nature and other people. I want to show this world to others and help them achieve new experiences. I hope to write for Vice or National Geographic someday.
FMA: What’s the best advice you’ve received so far about being a writer/reporter?
TS: After a panel I held with my club, The Society for Collegiate Journalists, I talked to a journalist from the Tallahassee Democrat. She told me to focus on writing about what I believe in and am passionate [about] rather than trying to suit my college demographic. From then on, I started my focus on lifestyle, travel and fashion—three topics I thoroughly enjoy writing about. I also learned from a woman at the Washington Post to master another language as a journalist. I am currently minoring in French.