Special Students' Section

50 Minutes with Debra Mccaughey – Texas Southern Journalism Students take the "pen" into their own hands

Introduction to Journalism  |  Instructor: Dr. Anthony Ogbo

Veteran journalist, former KHOU Channel 11 news anchor and currently the Director of Communication Services for the  Houston Community College (HCC) Central, Debra McGaughey spent exactly 50 minutes with Journalism Students at the Texas Southern University Houston where she delivered lectures about journalism, the practice, and prospects.


As the Director of Communication Services at the HCC, Ms. McGaughey oversees all marketing, communications, and community outreach efforts for the 12,000-student college, which is one of six, full-service colleges in the 65,000+ student HCC District. She has worked for HCC as the college’s television station general manager and a college communications director for the past 15 years. She spent 15 years as an award-winning television news reporter for KHOU Channel 11 News in Houston, and KDAF-TV in Dallas. She also spent four years as a feature writer and news reporter for The Dallas Morning News. She’s been nominated for a Lone Star EMMY and has won other awards for her writing.


Ms. McGaughey holds a B.S. in Journalism from Boston University, and a and a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University. Originally from New York, she is a married mother of four grown children.


Fascinating aspect about Ms. Mccaughey’s visit is that even as beginners in this course,  these students took the pen into their own hands, and covered the event in its entirety. They took the photos, wrote their stories their way, created their own blogs, and published their coverage.  Below are the blogs:  


She took this time to explain to the journalism students the importance of education. Debra Mcgaughey is a very big advocate for education. She believes that getting an education will open up many doors and introduce many opportunities. The students had questions about how they could transition from college to the industry and if she had any suggestions or ideas that they could use while in college. Mcgaughey offered many options including how students could join school newspapers or journalism organizations for internship programs.


“People in the marketing and public relations fields should ask themselves if they are good at writing, selling, being creative, graphic design, interacting with people, doing reports, and other aspects of communication. To be able to achieve those qualities, McGaughey instructed the class with overall ingredients of good communicators.”


“You can still get advice from Ms. McGaughey and information from her at Houston Community College (Central Campus). She still mentors aspiring journalist around Houston Texas. After today the TSU Journalism 130 class walked away with more knowledge and hopes of becoming  journalists  after hearing Ms. Debra Mcgaughey’s speech.”


“As a young African American student who is studying broadcast journalism and is an aspiring journalists, I think that it is really amazing seeing a successful African American woman who has done it all. Ms. Mcguaghey continues to help students whether it is teaching at the HCC or speaking with a class. She continues to show that she cares about the next generation and want us to succeed just like her. Even as a mother and a wife, she did not let that stop her from completing her goals.”


The basic lesson throughout her whole speech was how to persistently be a good writer. She said, “you have to be assertive to get what you want, such as asking questions. You must not be afraid to ask the over-the-top questions in order to get the answer you want. Also, being a good writer is a person’s backbone if  he or she has the desire to become a journalist. Expectations remain the same even as a Public Relations and Marketing major.”


During her lecture, McGaughey gave a few pointers on how to become the best journalist. She encouraged the importance of staying focus, becoming an intern, and lastly, the importance of mastering the art of written language.


Ms. Mcgaughey indeed delivered a lecture that left students with the knowledge most of them did not have before. She gave students such knowledge and experience by allowing her own personal experiences to shine through them. The years of experience Mcgaughey holds makes her a great mentor for students to look at going into the Journalism profession.  She provided knowledge and experiences as she started off and walked us through her career success.


Also, her being a black woman in that field must be pretty hard, but it gave me the confidence and courage to be able to go for my dreams. It was an honor to have a speaker with so much advice and tips that were helpful to not just myself, but also my peers. The information that was given by her will be used and cherished throughout my journey.


Ms. Mcgaughey said, “In order to be a journalist, you must know how to write and if you cannot write then you will struggle professionally. You have to like talking to people and you have to be pushy or others will run over you. You have to think fast on your feet and must be able to speak in a tone that’s sounds believable to the audience.


McGaughey explained how she became a “shot caller” and how her position behind the camera was just as important, if not more important than the positions in front of the camera. “You’re creating and dictating what the public sees and that is infinitely more valuable,” said McGaughey. Her career working as a TV manager at HCCTV took off and she soon found herself working in the marketing aspect as a Public Relations director, which is the position she still maintains.  


 As she began speaking, she shared a little about her personal life and why she chose journalism. It was 1975 when Debra McGaughey graduated from High School, but she had no idea what career she wanted was going to choose. She knew that her hometown and being surrounded by livestock was not the life she wanted. She went to college in Upstate New York. Debra thought that the Sociology class in High School gave her a taste of what that career was, so she chose that as her major.


Debra didn’t always know this is what she would end up doing. Growing up in Cortland New York, she was an athlete. Originally after college she wanted to get into Psychology, Journalism was the last thing on her mind. “I didn’t want to get into journalism until my professor graded my paper and told me I should look into journalism because I was a very good writer” Debra said.


Working in TV can be one of the best gigs out there because you can call your own shots, learn professional editorial skills and manage creative people.  You can connect with the community better to, because everybody watches TV.  If you can create something to put on TV to capture the minds of the community or a broader audience, you would have a better chance in reaching people or changing the way people view society.

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