“Career Diaries” is a column from Step Up Magazine where we feature established professionals on what it’s like--and what it takes--to enter their field. Today we are excited to learn from Jennifer Bendery.
Job title: senior politics reporter
Years of experience: 15+ years in journalism
Where you went to college (optional): Mary Washington College (undergrad), San Francisco State Univ (grad)
Jennifer Bendery is a senior politics reporter for The Huffington Post. She has covered the White House and Congress since April 2011. Prior to that, she reported on Congress for four years for Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent four years covering the Texas Legislature in Austin, TX. She also worked in book publishing for three years in San Francisco and was a health care policy reporter for two years in Providence, RI.
In a few sentences, please tell us what you do and what your job involves?
I'm a politics reporter. That usually means I hang out in Congress and ask lawmakers things they don't want to talk about. Sometimes it means I visit towns and cities around the country and ask random people on the street about Trump's policies and how they affect/hurt their daily lives.
What is something you wish you knew about your industry before you entered it?
I wish I knew that politicians could be such good liars. I can think of a number of U.S. senators who have looked me in the eye and lied to my face, or spun facts far from reality. Lame! Also I wish I knew that getting reelected matters more to many politicians than just about anything. That's ridiculous.
What has surprised you about your industry?
How fun it is being a politics reporter. You have access to powerful people and you can ask them whatever you want, and call them out when they are abusing that power. It's also surprising how freaked out non-political people get in social settings like parties or bars when they find out I'm a reporter. They think I'm going to secretly write about our interaction or that I'm recording our dumb conversation over beers. I am not!
What does an average morning look like for you?
Lots of emails, lots of reading news stories, some calls to sources for whatever story I'm working on.
What does an average afternoon look like for you?
Talking to sources for a story I'm working on. Writing the story I'm doing.
What are some of your favorite parts of your job and what are some of your not-so-favorite parts?
Favorite parts: breaking a great story that matters, calling out powerful people for being horrible and hypocritical
Not-so-favorite part: hitting a wall in writing, when Trump whips up people to hate on the media and I get threats or hate mail
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Persistance, persistance, persistance.
What is your advice to a student who is interested in entering the industry you work in?
All it takes to be a good journalist is being curious, knowing how to ask tough questions and knowing how to write a sentence. Get an internship to get your foot in the door.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
Twitter is extremely helpful. News often breaks there before it hits cable TV or anywhere else. I also get story ideas from skimming what political people are tweeting about.