CEO & Founder, GJP Media Services LLC
Giselle J. Phelps, School of Journalism '05, is CEO & Founder of GJP Media Services LLC, with operations in New York City & Dallas, Texas.
How has your journalism degree helped you?
It taught me the fundamentals of news gathering. The degree gave me a foundation to build on.
The course work I did at [the university] was very practical. This gave me the ability to hit the ground running when I landed in a commercial newsroom.
I went into the workforce with an general understanding of a the pace, pressure and work ethic required to be a broadcaster. It also provided me with a network of peers in the industry. I still draw on them today.
What have you done since graduating?
I’ve done a lot since graduating. I started off in Toronto working for CTV’s Business Channel BNN; first as an editorial assistant and then as a chase producer. I always knew I wanted to explore reporting and take advantage of my ability to work in the U.S. From there, I moved to Houston, Texas. I took a position as a producer for a show that aired on the Fox network. I primarily took the gig to get my bearings in the states.
While I was in Houston, I continued to work on my reporting demo reel and apply for jobs. I eventually got my first on-air reporting job for a station in Syracuse, N.Y. They placed me in the Ithaca, N.Y., bureau to start off and eventually I went to work in the main Syracuse newsroom. After a few years in Syracuse, I took a position in Buffalo, N.Y., as a weekend anchor/weekday reporter. From there I jumped to a big market reporting job in Dallas. I spent a few years in Dallas before deciding I wanted to try something new in the changing media environment. Today, I own my own media services company. It helps people get media coverage, provides media training and video production. During my traditional reporting career, I grew very passionate about helping women and minorities tell their stories. I realized the media skills I have are in demand by those who don’t understand the newsroom decision making process. I felt my knowledge and tech skill made me uniquely positioned try something entrepreneurial. I also launched my own website called www.hotmessfolder.com. It’s a daily look at all “hot mess” news in sports, politics, celebrity and general news. I’m also a public speaker and still contribute to many media outlets.
What attracted you to journalism in the first place? And why broadcast?
I grew up watching a lot of news. It always fascinated me. I remember being a kid watching video of the Berlin Wall coming down on the news. I didn’t understand the context of the Cold War, but I knew something important was happening. I knew I was watching something unfold that really mattered to the world. I wanted to be a part of moments like that.
I also wanted a career that offered variety. I could never imagine myself sitting in an office all day. I need to be out in the world talking to be people. I always knew I’d be a journalist.
Why did you decide to work in America?
I was born in the U.S. and have dual citizenship. I always wanted to experience living stateside. But also it opened up more journalism jobs to me, especially in terms of reporting. There are about 200 TV media markets in the U.S. Most have at least one television station. It gave me a wider net to cast when looking for my first few jobs.
Any fun memories from j-school?
I was really involved on campus when I was at [the university]. I was on student council, worked in the off-campus housing office, and was a part of a student association. So I have lots of fun memories of [the university] in general. But I have memories of being a student reporter roaming Toronto for interviews. Once I landed an interview with a member of the Village People on Queen Street outside Much Music. He ended up giving my classmate and me free tickets to their show with Cher. It was pretty funny.
What advice would you give current journalism students?
Network, network and network. Go to events in your community. Get businesses cards and start developing relationships with people in the industry early. I got my job at BNN through someone who worked there I had met during a movie screening a TIFF. I was still a student, but struck up a conversation with him about the internship I had just finished. Turns out he was an assignment editor and helped open a door for me, because he saw my passion.
Grads at Work is a series of profiles of School of Journalism alums. If you know of a notable grad you’d like to see featured, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.