What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Kasie Hunt: I’m the political correspondent for MSNBC, so I’m charged with covering the 2016 presidential campaign across all of our platforms. I file reports for NBC Nightly News and all of the other shows across the cable network.
I also write for the web sometimes, but I’m [on] the road probably 90 percent of the time. I travel with the candidates; right now I’m spending a lot of time in Iowa and New Hampshire. I cover a lot of our big debates, like the [upcoming] debate in Las Vegas.
In terms of a typical day, yesterday is a good example: Yesterday we got into Vegas and we did Morning Joe. In the meantime, we’re working on a script and a package we’d shot in Iowa. We spent some time at Camp Cruz with the Cruz campaign. I spent a lot of time on the phone with the producers and senior producers in Washington and New York to shepherd that through the process. We did a couple live shots outside the Venetian talking about looking ahead to the [debate] the next day. Our producers [in Washington] worked to cut that piece while I appeared that night on Nightly News, and then we worked to cut that same piece with producers from Morning Joe to include more politics for the audience that watches [that program]. I then woke up this morning and was on the air at 8:30am. We’re also cutting a third package on Donald Trump, so that one needs to be worked on, too.
My day is a mix of live [reporting], interviewing, gathering clips for pieces, writing scripts and getting from point A to point B, so a lot of traveling around.
What is the best part of your job?
KH: Storytelling. That’s, to me, the heart of this job and everything that we do across all the platforms we work on. That combined with breaking news—those two things together ideally are, if we’re doing our jobs, the best. We’re both telling Americans what’s going on and what they should focus on today to help them figure out who they should vote for, but explaining it in a way that people can wrap their heads around and that they can enjoy watching. I like gathering together all of the elements.
TV is really fun because there are so many different things you can play with; you can tell a story in a really, really rich way. I like spending the time putting those things together, writing the script to all of those different kinds of elements and then getting it out there. That’s my favorite part of the process.
I also like traveling—it’s one of my favorite parts of the job. One of the unique things about covering politics in America is that I’ve gotten to see a lot of corners of this country that I never would’ve gotten to see. It turns out that there are a lot of really beautiful places in corners of America you wouldn’t necessarily expect.
What’s something you’ve learned about the journalism industry that you wish you knew when you were just starting out?
KH: The industry is small, so everyone that you meet and work with, starting from when you’re in college or when you’re first entering into professional situations, is important. I don’t think I made any major mistakes in college when I was just starting out, but I didn’t realize at the time what an impact this would have. Many of the people that I’m working with today are actually people who helped me very early on in my career.
For example, I interned for the current deputy political director at NBC News back in college. Luckily, I seemed to do a good job for him because now we work together every day. It’s definitely something for [young people] to keep in mind.
Also, don’t lose touch with people who help you out early on. You never know when a connection like that is going to come back and really make a difference.
Do you have any advice for young women looking to get into media or journalism who are just starting out?
KH: First of all, I would say don’t forget to reach out [to] anyone and everyone that you know, whether it’s a family member or a friend. Don’t hesitate to reach out and say, “Hey, is there anything that I can do, or is there a connection you can help me make?” It really is an industry made on human connections more than anything else. Obviously your work has to speak for itself, but it really helps to build that network from the outset.
The second thing I would say is [to have] persistence. Don’t ever underestimate the value of persistence and letting people know that [a job or opportunity] is something you really want to do.
I started out as a writer before I went into broadcast journalism, and I applied for an internship at a magazine, even though I didn’t necessarily have traditional writing clips. I went in and did the interview, and they said, “We really like you, but there’s this guy who went to Harvard and who has all of these clips from the Harvard Crimson. We really think that’s who we want to go with, but we’ll let you know for sure once we talk to him.”
[Despite this,] I called back every Friday to the editor-in-chief for close to a month saying, “Hey, just want to check in. I know you’re looking at this other person, but I just want you to know that I really want this job. I promise that if I’m hired, I’ll be working really hard for you.”
Finally, on the fourth or fifth Friday, I called and I got the same answer from him saying he hadn’t heard from [the other applicant], and I said I’d call back next Friday and hung up. I got a call from him a couple minutes later and he said, “Look, you can have the job. We wanted this other person, but it’s pretty clear to us that this is something you really care about, and I think that’s what we want more than anything in this internship.” So that was my first full-time writing job. It was supposed to go to someone else, but my nagging and persistence got me the internship!
There are a lot of opportunities in journalism that are like that, where if you have good ideas and really care about something and you persist, you can get them. Show up in person. Write that extra email. It goes much farther than people realize.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone or working with someone?
KH: I’m not typically that involved in hiring people, but I’ve certainly been involved in recommending people for various jobs. I would say [I’m looking for] people who are engaged, flexible and who are willing to work to make things happen for themselves.
The one thing you can control [in this industry] is how hard you work. You may not be the best person in the room or the smartest or most experienced, but you can still control how hard you work on a project, and that’s a quality that can really come through.
Flexibility also means taking on something you’re unfamiliar with and being open to trying something new. For example, if you’re in an internship and you’re assigned a mundane task, try doing it a different way.
When you’re young and just starting out and you don’t have the experience yet, those are very basic, straightforward things that can carry you a long way no matter what the situation.