I chose UTS because of its strong reputation for delivering in-depth and hands-on experience.
Graduating in 2003 from a UTS Bachelor of Communication majoring in Journalism, Lynda now works as a CNN anchor and correspondent in the US.
Why did you choose to study Journalism at UTS?
I chose UTS to study journalism because of its strong reputation for delivering in-depth and hands-on experience. It was important for me to learn from experienced current and former journalists and this degree offered just that.
Throughout the course I took advantage of every opportunity to broadcast interviews through community radio 2SER and publish articles in the student magazine Vertigo and Reportage.
I initially started studying the Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Social Inquiry) (now known as Social and Political Sciences) as I was a few points short of the 98.8 needed to enter the course. My study, academic references and work experience were taken into account and after my first year I successfully transferred into the Journalism course.
The Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) helped me develop stronger research skills and gave me a taste of all forms of journalism, from broadcast, to print, to digital.
I also improved my writing skills for media and developed an understanding about defamation law and ethics in journalism.
What did you enjoy most about your degree?
I found the practical elements of this course the most enjoyable. Doing interviews, field reporting, shooting and editing stories, working in teams and working to deadlines really made the course highly beneficial.
How did studying your degree at UTS prepare you for your career as a Journalist?
The course gave me a taste of what to expect and being a competitive course it spurred me on to seek out work experience as soon as possible.
Where’s your career path taken you since graduating? Is it what you had expected to be doing?
Since graduating, my career path has exceeded my initial expectations and my ambition has grown.
Thanks to a great deal of unpaid work experience in my first year (practically every weekend) I scored my first paid part-time job with the Seven Network by my second year where I worked until the end of my degree.
I sought out on the road experience when I finished my degree working in regional TV for NBN Television in Newcastle, Tweed Heads and Lismore.
Less than a year later I joined the Nine Network as an assistant Chief of Staff. From there I worked my way up to producer, line producer, reporter and weekend Qantas in-flight newsreader. After about four and a half years I was poached by the Seven Network and joined the national public affairs show Today Tonight.
While at Seven I pursued a number of investigations and interviewed an array of people from one-one-on interviews with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore to fashion pieces with Miss Universe and Myer Ambassador Jennifer Hawkins.
I was on the first convoy with families to enter the town of Kinglake after the devastating Black Saturday bushfires and spent a week reporting from the region. I also became a regular reporter at the Australian Open and the Logies each year.
I resigned from 7 to become a foreign correspondent. The full-time positions at the Australian networks rarely become available so I decided to make my own path as a freelance correspondent in New York. It was more challenging than I could have anticipated. I had to use all my skills as a journalist, producer and chief of staff to not only find and pitch stories but also sources crews and book studio time and satellite trucks through affiliate networks. I covered the Harlem Explosion, the first NYC Ebola case and toured Boeing’s first space taxi.
I continued to seek out other opportunities and less than a year later I began commuting from NYC to CNN’s World Headquarters in Atlanta as a freelance anchor/correspondent. At the start of 2015 I signed full-time with the network.
I work with an extraordinarily talented team. The work is hard and the hours are challenging but everyone is passionate about the product. CNN excels at breaking news and that’s when its all systems go. I find I am constantly reading and researching to stay across foreign policy issues and developing stories.
What does a typical day in the life of Lynda Kinkade look like?
A typical day in this industry is rare.
It could start as early as 1am or as late as 9pm on any day of the week. I constantly read and watch as much world news and local news so I have a good understanding of the developing stories and angles. If there’s something coming up that I want to know more about I’ll turn to specialist publications or local papers in the region where the story is developing.
When I get into CNN’s HQ I generally head straight to hair and makeup and get that out of the way first. While in the chair I’m reading and responding to emails and suggesting stories or potential guests for interviews. Once in the newsroom I’ll chat with the producer and super-vising producer about what stories we’ll be pursuing and what guests or correspondents we’ve requested. Sometimes all those plans fall in place but more often than not (as is the nature of news) things change. As I’m preparing for my first show I am writing up notes — facts, figures, and any background that will help when I’m talking off the cuff. I develop questions that I want to pursue in any interviews we have scheduled. I’ll touch base with each correspondent to make sure we’re on the same page with all the developing angles. If there’s a chance of a live event — I’ll write extra preview notes on that I’ll use it as reference points if I need to give a brief on the event and fill time before a press conference.
But sometimes when a big story breaks — the prompter goes black and it’s just you trying to work your way through what we know and don’t know.
The way it comes together on air relies on a great team behind the scenes pursuing interviews with witnesses or correspondents or guests as well as footage and creating map graphics. A calm producer and director giving clear and concise information is crucial so I can take the viewers with us as we uncover what’s happening. Sometimes when I am doing an off-the-cuff recap I have a producer in my ear telling me to stretch in for a specific amount of time and then a director counting down the minutes or seconds I have to stretch to until throwing to break. On a typical weekend I could be on air for 7 hours — doing 4 news shows — 30 minutes to an hour in length — and then updates every half hour. When I do the simulcast shows on CNN/US and CNN International I cover two straight hours solo followed by a few updates and another international show. When I fill in for CNN Today — CNN International’s Asian/Australian morning show — it’s 3 hours of content. There’s never a dull moment!
Is there any advice you can give to UTS students who are currently studying Communication and Journalism?
The best advice I can give to students who are currently studying Communication and Journalism is that work experience is key and you should seek it out as early as possible.