Former CM Life staff writer Brian Brunner shares his experience
In a series of interviews, we asked our Alumni about their experiences at CM Life. Read on to see how Brian Brunner shares his "Life Story."
In celebration of CM Life's upcoming 100 Year Anniversary, we asked alumna Brian Brunner to reflect on his time at CM Life and how it helped him get prepared for the job he has today.
Q: How long were you here?
A: One year, 2007 to 2008.
Q: What position did you work in?
A: I was a staff writer.
Q: What were some of the highlights or favorite memories while working for CM Life?
A: Working with some very talented people early in their careers who would go on to do some very big things like Mark W Smith and Jake May. As a student-athlete, at the time, I think being part of the CM-Life staff gave me an outlet outside of football to grow my social circle with a very different group of people. One of my favorite stories, even though I got to do a lot of feature writing, was writing about couples on campus. The article featured Bruce Roscoe, who was our dean of students, and his wife Megan, John and (the late) Nina Nash Robertson, and Robert and Peggy Barclay. It was a soft feature, but it was fun to see how CMU had impacted these couples’ lives as they grew their love and their family with CMU as a backdrop.
Q: How did your experience at CM Life influence your career?
A: Well, I unfortunately didn’t land in the newspaper industry, though my clips at CMU helped me secure an internship with the Saginaw News and then ultimately, for a brief period of time, as a freelance writer with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I think it's influenced my career immensely, though. Working in athletics administration, I’ve been able to show additional value to the various schools I’ve worked at by being able to write at a high level and turn things around quickly. CM-Life was my first experience too where I was writing “for real” and not just for a class. So, I often had to pick up the phone or go talk to people face-to-face and really get outside my comfort zone. Working in major gifts fundraising, I have to do that all the time. Much of the process is the same. In journalism and philanthropy, you’re trying to tease out people’s stories and their personal narrative. What makes them tick? What are their aspirations? The main difference is that in journalism, at the end of the day you’re asking for a quote. In fundraising, you’re asking for a check.
Q: Do you still keep up with CM Life regularly?
A: Unfortunately not much. I’ll check the website on occasion, but I haven’t consistently read it.
Q: Where do you work now?
A: I work at Central Michigan University
Q: What advice would you give to current CM Lifers?
A: Don’t be so concerned with writing that piece that “makes a name for yourself.” Work hard and focus on doing good journalism. This means rigorously checking facts and striving to get all sides of a story. As a journalist, your job is not to play judge or jury, it’s to present the news objectively. Newspapers, especially community papers, are falling by the way side and it seems like hard journalism is going away. It might seem like the only way to write for a living is to do entertainment or sports journalism and lean heavily on Op-Ed writing. I believe that a free and independent press and its watchdog function in our democracy is one of the hallmarks of our way of life in this country. It serves such a vital purpose and I would encourage all CM-Lifers to not take that lightly. Work hard to hold those in power accountable, but do so by adhering to the highest code of ethics and by seeking honest feedback for improving your craft. Jobs in journalism may be fewer these days, but there is always a need for someone who can write well and tell a compelling story.
The 100 Year Anniversary celebration will be at Soaring Eagle Casino and Conference Center on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets. They must be purchased by Nov. 13 at 4 p.m. in order to attend