Coming Full Circle With Rebecca Agnew

By Gaelle Gilles

Getting started with a career in media is a grind. Many times, the focus can be solely on finding the right starting position, getting our foot in the door and hopefully getting into the swing of things. Then, the self-doubt, worry and stress fall by the wayside as we settle into the role. However, the reality is that once we’re in a career, we start to see the possibilities available to us. We recognize that there are different phases we go through in our careers, where we begin to learn more about our desired career path, our abilities and the goals we’d like to reach. 

As a news producer, Rebecca Agnew is no stranger to these phases. Her life revolves around a 24-hour news cycle. For her, having a predictable work schedule is not exactly feasible—this, among other things, is something she learned on the job. 

During our conversation, we spoke about her next move and her unfolding career path, reflecting on her experiences and the decisions that landed her to where she is today.

Have A Mentor

Agnew’s start in the newsroom was through an internship opportunity she had with FOX 2 Detroit. There, she met the person she now regards as her mentor, Dave. Being present in a living, breathing newsroom in the largest market in Michigan fostered Agnew’s interest in being a producer. She credits the internship for helping her land her first news job. Mentors are crucial because they provide first-hand knowledge that you can apply to future roles. They’ve most likely walked the path you are on or are attempting to pursue. And they also serve as a resource for when you face uncertain situations. 

Gain Work Experience

Just a few months shy of graduation from Wayne State University in 2017 and with no experience other than the FOX 2 Detroit internship behind her, Agnew landed an interview for her first job in Traverse City, MI, the state’s smallest news market. She credits the internship for preparing her in landing this role, her first full-time job as a new producer. Working in a small market, “in the middle of nowhere” as Agnew says, usually means wearing many hats and essentially being thrown into the chaos. “You get a week, maybe two, if you’re lucky, of training under the outgoing producer. Then it’s sink or swim,” Agnew reflects. 

College taught Agnew her news judgment, but she says that career experience is second to none. In Traverse City, she learned to work in a time crunch, learned to do it right and do it fast. “The first year’s gonna be hard,” Agnew says, “but once you start getting creative and showcasing yourself as a producer, that’s when you get the ball rolling.” 

Set Goals and Find Balance

Like most people in journalism, Agnew had a goal in mind, a target market she wanted to land in. For her, this market was Detroit, the largest news market in Michigan. Her second producer position in Lansing, a larger market, was a step in the right direction. However, every position comes with its own challenges. There, she started with a brand new station, which meant she had challenges that went beyond that of a traditional producer. Although an experienced producer, she found herself almost starting from scratch in this new role. Then, this year, as Agnew’s accomplishments accumulated and her experience grew, she took the plunge and landed a news producer role in her target market, Detroit. 

When asked how she maintains a work-life balance, she says that always being aware of world events can make you very anxious. She recommends that you “try and carve out what little free time you have to do things that you enjoy that have nothing to do with work.” In Agnew’s world, that means shutting off all news at 4 p.m. and taking back her time to decompress, care for her cat and prepare for a new day.    

Despite being an award-winning producer with nearly half a decade’s-worth of experience, Agnew still experiences self-doubt at times. Imposter-syndrome and perfectionism play a role for her, and she still feels she has to prove herself to her team. For Agnew, it seems like being driven means never being fully satisfied—it means constantly looking for ways to improve and setting your sights higher. Now, she has her sights on an executive producer position. “It doesn’t matter how many merits I get or how many times I’m told I’m a good producer—it just feels like I have so much more to learn, do and grow,” Agnew says. 


Gaelle Gilles

Gaelle is a writer and photographer based in New York. Her experience ranges from working in communication and broadcast, public health and finance. When not working, she's usually trying out new recipes, traveling or volunteering. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


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