Jay Mitchell Wenger
Sometimes life experiences can lead us to our destiny.
For DeAndria Turner, the people and situations that impacted her life led to a career in storytelling with empathy.
Turner, a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, knew she wanted to be a journalist since 10th grade when she met her journalism role model, who was covering her beauty pageant.
Today, the Gautier native works as a reporter for WAFF 48, a Huntsville news station.
Turner’s “try and try again” attitude and passion for telling other people’s stories helped her land the job. His parents also influenced his career choice.
After the unexpected loss of his mother whose death remains a mystery, Turner realized that there had been no media coverage of the tragedy. This pushed her to continue working as a journalist and reporting the news no matter what.
Her father, who was always supportive, taught her that it was okay to start over in life and try again. His advice: Find what excites you and focus on it.
Turner said acting dean Debora Wenger, Ph.D., was one of her favorite professors at UM.
“DeAndria was one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated students I’ve encountered in my time at Ole Miss,” Wenger said. “She wanted to learn as much as she could about storytelling on media platforms, but she had a passion for broadcast journalism.”
Turner said it was important to get involved in the many activities offered by the university.
“There are plenty of opportunities in journalism school to help you out,” said Turner, who worked for UM campus stations Rebel Radio and NewsWatch Ole Miss. “Being on the radio has helped me with my voice, because I like to talk, but never understood how to set the tone.
Turner said reporting for NewsWatch was one of his most valuable college experiences.
“I reported on a Trump rally in Tupelo, and that helped me prepare to report on a Trump rally here in Huntsville,” said Turner, who reports on many different topics. “I report on everything that happens here, so my weeks are never the same, but I only work Tuesday to Saturday.”
This schedule is Turner’s personal preference. She works on stories across town and has to come up with ideas at the start of each workday.
“It’s a rush to get stuff every day,” she said, “because the news you’d usually see isn’t a daily thing in most places.”
Turner said she loved reporting because there was always something to do and a story to pursue.
“Reporting taught me to be empathetic and to understand everyone’s story,” she said. “It’s important not to take home the things you see, because you see the very good and the very bad.”
Turner’s advice to student journalists: “Don’t give up,” she said. ” There is something for every taste. You just have to plug into things and gain experience. It won’t always be your favorite, and that’s okay. There is no rush, so keep trying.
Turner had enough credit hours to graduate, but stayed an extra year in college. She said she wished she had taken a marketing course because it would have helped her sell her stories to the director.
She said she hopes to grow up and eventually leave her role at WAFF 48.
“I love the Huntsville area and the people,” Turner said, but she’s not ready to settle down anywhere yet.
Turner said she knows she wouldn’t have gotten a job in broadcast journalism without the support staff and student career opportunities she was given at the University of Mississippi.
Note: The author of this Oxford story is the son of Debora Wenger, who is mentioned.
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