“I always wanted to do journalism  but I felt at the time I didn’t have the temperament or the personality for it.

I had these like ideas of what a journalist was, and I just felt as a shy, awkward person that that was not me. But what happened was that when I was teaching abroad, One of my hobbies was I started a blog about the African diaspora and just kind of like all these lovely things I was learning while I was while I was living abroad.

And so I realized that I loved documenting things. I love taking photos, I love telling stories …”

Roxanne Scott’s path to journalism actually began with teaching internationally. From there, she went back to school herself, getting a degree from CUNY-Craig Newmark, then worked in radio in Louisville and Atlanta before her latest stop as a senior producer for Maria Hinojosa’s Futuro Media.

Roxanne talked about the variety of things she’s covered and the challenges of being a radio producer on investigative stories, like one on problems with migrants and the Border Patrol in the Arizona desert.

Listen by clicking on the link above or click here for other podcast players. Below are a few of the highlights of the interview.

Producing is a multi-faceted job

“I feel like the word producer can be super nebulous. This was a decades-long story and we traced people dying, trying to cross into the desert over 30 years and one of the many things I did was just kind of tracing that story and that history by creating a chronology of everything that I know of about this situation, That ended up being many pages long, as long as our hour-long radio script.

One of the other things I did was finding any piece of data that I could, that they would mention about rescues in a press release or in a budget or, or in some sort of report and just structure that data into a spreadsheet so that it’s more readable, that we ultimately handed off to a graphics team.

We also did field reporting, so I went to Arizona. We went to interview our, one of our main interviewees in our piece, booking those interviews, sourcing, talking to a lot of people on background that didn’t even make it into the story, but, but gave us the framing and the context for this story and really just reading everything I could about this crisis.

And I filed a lot of public records requests as well, and looked at a lot of budgets.”

If you have a great, funny quote, you need what’s around it to be meaningful too.

Roxanne was recently reporting on a sewer problem in Queens and her source said “We are tired of this situation, living in poo, living in doo. This is New York City and we’re not supposed to be living like this.”

“I was like ‘I don’t know where in the story this is going, but it’s definitely going somewhere in the story.’

I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a throwaway quote. That’s why it was even more important for me to back up that quote with data. There was no other quote that I got from all the people I interviewed that really illustrated this problem that we’re in New York City, we’re in the largest city and we can’t get clean water.

Yes, I was jumping up and down (that I got that quote), but I also was very careful … That’s a quote that will make you laugh, but behind it, there’s a systemic issue.”

The best lesson for aspiring journalists …

“Trust your gut and trust your taste. Pay attention to what you pay attention to. If you notice something, if something perks your interest, lean into that.”

I write down every single question I want an answer to, just in case I have to get every question. But I’m also trying to toy you with just writing down the, the issues you wanna hit, and then within that conversation, trust myself to ask that follow-up question that needs to be asked instead of taking yourself out of the conversation and looking at your phone or your list of questions.

So yeah, just learning to trust your gut and your instincts.”