February 6, 2023

Meet a Member: Baylee Steelman

In our cotinuing effort to help you get to know some of your fellow INBA members, we present another edition of "Meet a Member."  This time, we feature Baylee Steelman, who's been a part of our organization since she was a student.

In our continuing effort to help you get to know some of your fellow INBA members, we present another edition of "Meet a Member."  This time, we feature Baylee Steelman, who's been a part of our organization since she was a student.

Tell us about where you work and your current position.

I work at the southern Illinois ABC affiliate WSIL-TV3 in Carterville, just east of SIU Carbondale. It’s market #88 with Paducah, KY and Cape Girardeau, MO. My position is to produce the half hour 5 p.m. newscast. I also report, and produce the 6, 6:30 and 10 p.m. newscast when needed. This is my first gig after graduating from Illinois State University in May 2018, so I just surpassed nine months on the job! I’m very lucky to work 9-5 Monday through Friday (more often than not) as a newbie in the industry.

I was hired at WSIL under the Wheeler family. Five months after I started, we found out we were being sold to Quincy Media, Inc. We have several INBA members who work for Illinois’ Quincy stations. The station will be transitioning into Quincy Media for at least two years. You’ll see a new set by the time the changes are complete. 

How long have you been involved in INBA, and what keeps you involved?

I joined as a member of S-INBA. I was a candidate for the scholarship two times. What keeps me involved are our members. I love the conversations we have together and value the individual characteristics of our members. Seeing everyone’s faces during the conventions inspires me to keep going. Everyone’s passion is sobering, and reminds me why I’ve wanted to be a “news lady” since I was 13.

Do you see yourself staying in Illinois for a good portion of your career, or do you anticipate moving on at some point, and why?

I have somewhat of a rough draft of a life plan, but we’ll see how that actually turns out. I want to leave the state and experience new places eventually. I want to broaden my horizons, but I don’t want to leave forever. I’m very wary of moving out of state within the next ~five years because I will very much miss my family, and Chicago. I don’t know what I want immediately after I decide to move on from WSIL, but that’s okay. I have plenty of learning to soak in here. If I don’t know where I want to go and what I want to do, I think that’s a pretty good sign that I need to stay and be mindful of the learning I’m doing here in southern Illinois. 

What advice would you give to current students?

  • Don’t burn bridges. It’s a small world in news. Shockingly small. People will find out if you did something horrendous.
  • Be on time. Being late is stressful.
  • Take care of your body and pack a healthy lunch. Don’t go out to eat every day. If you’re a producer, your butt is in that chair and you aren’t burning off fast food. Feel good, write good. And don’t forget to drink water! Get up and walk around, stretch, and meditate if you need to. Being inside all day is an unfortunate transition from walking everywhere on a pretty campus.
  • Asking questions shows you care, whether it’s structuring a rundown, or planning interviews for a story and wondering who the best person is to talk to. If you’re new, your managers should know there’s a learning curve for you. It’s also essential for communication. The answers could help others, not just you.
  • Transitioning into post-grad life is one of THE hardest things I’ve ever had to do. You have to take care of yourself. Try all of the restaurants, read about your community’s history, go for a drive, go shopping, and exercise. News is an emotionally laborious job. When you’re comfortable, try and make a work friend.  Clean your house. Cook. Get off of your phone!! Take breaks from consuming content. You are your #1 priority. Work will suffer if you don’t love yourself. Buy a plant. 

What's harder: going on a job interview, or this member profile?

Well, considering I’ve had the TelePrompTer go out for a whole newscast, had a show go off air because the transmitter was struck by lightening, and had two local stories break 10 minutes before showtime, I’d say this interview was pretty chill. I’ll chat all day if you’re willing. 

Ryan Denham

I recently attended my first INBA conference—and it won’t be my last. The combination of professional and student journalists learning together is electric. Everyone learns from each other and walks away with new friends (and LinkedIn connections). I know I did.

Brian O'Keefe

One of the greatest benefits for me has been getting to see and know other parts of the state. I’m not from Illinois and traveling to spring and fall conventions over the years has transformed dots on a map to memories of places that enhance my story telling process.

Mike Miletich

Joining the INBA was one of my best life decisions. I met some of the best broadcast journalists while I was still a college student. Plus, I ended up getting a job through the connections I made!

Michelle Eccles McLaughlin

INBA is an organization that really caters to continuing education for professionals. It offers a relatively inexpensive way to learn new things, reinforce best practices and network.

Molly Jirasek

One of my top goals in my career was to get to Chicago. Thanks to INBA I met Margaret Larkin. She remembered our great conversations about Chicago and first alerted me to a job opening in the city I might be interested in. Lo and behold, I got that job! INBA helped me reach my dream.

Nora Baldner

The support INBA gives to student journalists is vitally important as we all discover how technology is changing news dissemination, INBA monitors and actively encourages truth, transparency and accountability from students and their universities.

Jennifer Fuller

INBA is not only a great networking tool, it also provides advocacy and support for journalists in an ever-changing world.

Alexis McAdams

INBA played a huge part in preparing me for my broadcasting career. The INBA conventions connect students with on-air talent and news directors who give feedback on now to improve your work. Through relationships I made at those conventions, I was able to obtain my first on air reporting job.

Aaron Eades

As a student, it's often difficult to picture what working in the real world will be like. For me, the INBA bridged that gap by giving me the chance to talk to professionals who used to be in the same shoes I'm in now.

Jeff Bossert

When I was working in radio for the first time, I had no idea whether I could truly handle the demands. But INBA made me curious and want to improve. Even now, when I’ve maybe worked a lot of hours or planned some stories that didn’t come together for one reason or another, what I learn from an INBA conference gets me re-invigorated about the business.

Andrew Tanielian

INBA taught me how to network in a meaningful way. The scholarship process taught me how to endure a hard job interview and thrive.

Bob Roberts

INBA is as much about friendship and as it is about achieving common goals. It provides two things individual newsrooms cannot: in-service training, and the ability to speak out on issues affecting the profession. But most of all, it brings newspeople together.

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