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Perspectives Blog: Student blog posts

Words from the Wise with the Star Tribune's Neal Justin

Sunday, April 22, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: MaiLei Meyers, student University of Minnesota
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By MaiLei Meyers

Student in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota


Amid the glitz and the glamour of the digital golden age, the staple media critic persists. Enter: Neal Justin for the Star Tribune.


Justin’s 25-year career surprisingly began with hard news reporting. While attending Northwestern University, he dabbled in a little bit of everything from clerking at the Chicago Tribune for feature sections to writing movie reviews for the campus paper.


After graduating, Justin landed in Rockford, Illinois as a crime reporter. This menagerie of media experiences helped propel him into a position at the Star Tribune when they were in need of a new, multifaceted journalist.


“If you learn the craft of being a good hard news journalist and all of the work it takes, you’re going to be equipped to cover anything,” Justin explains. “It’s a good foundation.”


Keeping things fresh in his industry has never been a problem for Justin. In the digital age, excess choice flourishes. From streaming services to podcasts and media trends, the sky's the limit. Keeping track of just one subset of entertainment let alone choosing what’s newsworthy can be a challenge all on its own.


To really mix things up, Justin decided to immerse himself in the world of stand up comedy. He enjoys taking advantage of all that the Minneapolis arts scene has to offer. Though he’s always had his eye on comedy because it’s so intertwined with television, it is just now stepping out of his professional peripheral.


“I’ve been spending a lot of time in comedy clubs and understanding that artform, which I think is a unique challenge,” Justin details. “I think it’s the toughest thing to do in entertainment. Nobody’s a success overnight.” 


While he keeps up with what’s new in the entertainment industry, Justin doesn’t shy away from stepping out of his creative and professional comfort zones . He’s an active member of the Minneapolis chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and one of the founding members behind the prestigious summer-intensive program for aspiring young journalists, JCamp.


Every year, the JCamp program accepts 42 high school students out of hundreds of applicants from across the country. The opportunity brings students and professionals together for a week of intensive training and an up-close look at the world of journalism.


“Working with young people of any age that are interested in journalism keeps me refreshed and excited about the future of the industry,” said Justin. “AAJA has given me the opportunity to do that, which has been the highlight of my career.”


My final question for Justin was about his go-to advice for young people interested in pursuing journalism. He gave two simple recommendations: get published and work hard.


Getting your foot in the door of a newsroom whether it’s at your college newspaper or a small community publication will help open doors for more opportunities in the future. Having your work published by professional organizations will only boost your experience and credibility.


Additionally, working even a little bit harder than the people next to you may just be the deciding factor between you and them in the eyes of colleagues and superiors. Your hard work may not always be immediately recognized but keeping at it will pay off in the long run.


After 25 years of reporting for the Star Tribune, Justin conducts himself with the energy and curiosity of a brand-new journalist paired with the wisdom and experience of an industry veteran. Grabbing ahold of each opportunity that comes his way, whatever is next will be worth watching for. 


Editor’s Note: As a way to support the next generation of public relations professionals, we regularly feature articles written students from within our extended community. Many of you teach and have already seen the thoughtful insights offered by students. For those of you who haven’t, now’s your chance.


Students, want to learn more about the industry? Reach out to our student relations committee to learn how you can get involved in PRSSA and PRSA. Students involved in PRSSA gain access to professional development opportunities, scholarships, the opportunity to be published and more.

Minnesota PRSA 1660 Highway 100 South, Suite 500-309 Minneapolis MN 55416 Phone: 952-237-9258 Email:

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