Finding her dream job, Ciara Frisbie says it requires hands-on experience to succeed in journalism

ATLANTA — Throughout high school and college, students will work tirelessly to reach graduation and the goal of starting their dream job. Some of those students never achieve this goal, while others are more fortunate and can say they will retire from the career they have always wanted.

Ciara Frisbie is one of the students who put everything she had in her collegiate and professional careers to be able to say she is working her dream job, which is now working as a digital episodic investigative producer/journalist at 11Alive-WXIA, Atlanta.

Frisbie comes from a military family, so she lived in numerous places before her family was stationed in Fort Stewart, Georgia. She grew up in a small town outside of the military base with one stoplight, and her high school graduating class had a total of 120 students.

In high school Frisbie was not initially interested in journalism. 

“My original goal was to become a nurse practitioner, but I discovered about two or three health occupation classes in that I did not like the sight of blood,” she said.

After graduating from high school, Frisbie attended Armstrong State University (ASU), now known as Georgia Southern University-Armstrong/Liberty, in Savannah, where she took core classes throughout her first semester. She then applied to Georgia State University (GSU), located in downtown Atlanta, because she felt it would help her further her journalism career with the numerous media outlets in the area.

“By August 2013, I had moved to Atlanta after visiting twice, and it was the best decision I could have made for myself professionally,” Frisbie said. “Between being a broke college student and working my butt off to get somewhere and make a name for myself, taking opportunities by the horns, it’s all kind of history after that.”

While at Georgia State, Frisbie was the first collegiate board member for newly launched Society of Professional Journalists Georgia Pro Chapter, where she gave advice on what kind of programming SPJ Georgia might provide for students studying journalism and working on student publications. 

Frisbie was very involved in student publications and news gathering opportunities during her college years at GSU. She said she was involved with the independent student newspaper of Georgia State, The Signal, where she went from being a news reporter to the news editor throughout her collegiate career. Frisbie was also involved with the Georgia State student radio station, WRAS, where she received her first exposure to investigative journalism with her report on major changes at the GSU radio station.

Her first look at investigative journalism was filing for her first open records report with a legal team while working for WRAS. It was both amazing and eye-opening, said Frisbie. Within her first investigation, she filed the request on a particular partnership which the Atlanta media professionals had questions about. She said she took it upon herself to find the answers people were looking for, making it her first jump into investigative journalism.

Before such exposure in investigative journalism, Frisbie said had never experienced the level of interest or burning passion to get to down to the bottom of an investigation and to report and inform people.

“Journalism is a very hands-on profession and the only way you’re going to learn how to do it is by doing it and getting experience through student media, internships and mentorship programs,” Frisbie said.

“Those experiences were invaluable and so helpful to me.”

Frisbie had two investigative internships with Channel 2 (WSB-TV) in Atlanta and also worked with the Georgia News Labin collaboration with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her work on the investigation of a Fulton County commissioner gave her regional exposure to her ability to work as an investigative journalist and won her the 2015 SPJ Region 3 Larry Peterson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism. See Frisbie’s work below while working for GSU’s Panther Report.

Directly after graduating from GSU, Frisbie became a freelance journalist at CNN.com for close to two years. Her work at CNN included writing articles for CNN.com, for example, CNN Politics: “Trump’s plan to kill Energy Star could benefit his properties” and “Trump denies climate change, but could one day be its victim.”

– By Sarah Jones

Sarah Jones will be a senior in 2018-2019 school year at Francis Marion University, Florence, South Carolina, majoring in mass communication and minoring in  psychology. She is a member of the FMU Student Media Association and will be editor-in-chief for The Patriot, FMU’s student newspaper. Jones is also a SPJ student member. Her hometown is Lugoff, South Carolina. She hopes to pursue a career in public relations. sjones5596@g.fmarion.edu.

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