For several years, Tomika Anderson had a perfectly fine job as a celebrity journalist. She got to interview T.I., Usher, Beyonce, her idol Stevie Wonder and many other stars.
But something for her changed several years ago when her brother was sent to Afghanistan to fight.
“I liked the whole celebrity journalism thing, but after my brother went to war, I wanted to do something different, something more serious,” she told my Introduction to Media Studies class last Tuesday during a guest lecture in Shepard Hall. (See Tomika with our class, below.)
“I realized there weren’t enough of us, journalists of color, in the news.”
Now Tomika mixes the hard news with the soft. She produces stories for FoxNews Edge and also writes scripts for BET shows
like the “Black Carpet. ” She covers celebrities and what they’re wearing for MTV and Uptown Magazine and also writes about serious issues like HIV, the Duke University rape case and the state of black America.
And as you’ve figured out, she also mixes her media–she describes herself as a TV and content producer and a writer. (She’s got clips from Ebony, essence.com, Entertainment Weekly, Vibe and Time Magazine.) And she even does a little PR on the side.
“There were days when a writer was just a writer,” says Tomika, who lives in Brooklyn. “Now, though, networks like CNN want someone who can do a bit of everything, someone who’s self-contained. So now a writer writes, produces, edits and is sometimes even the camera person.
Tomika describes the media as ever-changing, and promises to roll with it. She says she prefers to remain strictly freelance and is careful not to burn bridges to the gigs keep coming. Down the road, she’d like to write a book.
She advised anyone who’s interested in a media-communications career to stay current.
“You’ve got to be on top of the news,” she says. “In our business you always need to know what’s going on.”