By Ally Thomsen
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
When L. Kent Wolgamott got a degree in journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he thought he would write on political news. Years later, he is happily employed at the Lincoln Journal Star as an entertainment reporter.
Before enrolling in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Wolgamott, 60, planned to go into politics. He worked for Nebraska Sen. Edward Zorinsky when he went to school at UNL. After declaring a major in journalism, he focused on political news, but continued to take art history classes and play music, which he had done since the fourth grade.
After graduating, Wolgamott, originally from Curtis, Nebraska, was employed at the Lincoln Journal Star and worked as a city government reporter before covering natural resources. When the previous entertainment reporter left the paper, he applied for the job and got it. Interestingly, the political reporter position opened just a few months later. Wolgamott said that if those jobs had become available in the opposite order, he would not be where he is today.
As an entertainment reporter, Wolgamott covers art, film, literature and music relevant to Lincoln readers. When asked in an interview about memorable stories, he brought up a story he did for the 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s "On the Road." Wolgamott traveled to different places mentioned in the novel and talked to various people such as Allen Ginsberg.
Wolgamott said the best part of his job is that his personal life and work life are linked. He enjoys what he does and many of the events he would go to for fun he reports on. He goes to art openings, concerts and films. He has had the opportunity to meet and often have dinner with musicians and artists.
Wolgamott had some pieces of advice for aspiring journalists.
He said, “Write and write and write and write. It doesn’t matter where.”
He suggests that aspiring writers should take every opportunity to write, whether for class, a student newspaper or blog.
Wolgamott also encouraged journalists to be accurate and truthful and not write to please certain groups.
“You have to write in your own voice. You can’t write to please anyone else,” he said.
Wolgamott suggested that aspiring journalists pay attention to how social media is changing journalism. Wolgamott said that the advent of social media “didn’t change what I write or how I write, but provides a way for people to communicate.”
He said that Twitter and Facebook have increased interaction and communication between the audience and journalists.
Wolgamott uses social media to update his audience on events. He said that he posts pictures from shows more often than live-tweeting them because his followers prefer photos. A few years ago, live-tweeting was a major part of entertainment reporting, but Wolgamott now tweets more photos.
In the newsroom, Wolgamott said that the editors at the Journal Star set tone and direction of the paper and respect his craft, making it a good place to work. Editors “keep the train on the track,” making sure that stories are on deadline and working with reporters to get better.
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