Outstanding ASU journalism student: 'I want to tell stories that promote change'
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.
After watching an episode of “60 Minutes” with his father one night, Dylan McKim knew exactly what he wanted to do.
A teenager at the time, the Friendswood, Texas, native decided that journalism was a calling he couldn't ignore. McKim applied to and was accepted to ASU, winning an ASU New American University President’s Award, offered to outstanding incoming undergraduate students.
As an undergraduate in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, McKim completed internships at Arizona PBS, 12 News, and The Arizona Republic’s breaking news desk. McKim also reported for Cronkite News, the news division of Arizona PBS, and placed second in the national television championship of the Hearst Journalism Awards.
Through it all, his passion for journalism has continued to grow, he said.
“I’m not trying to do this job because I want to be famous or I want to be on TV. I want to do this because I want to help people and have an impact on the communities I serve,” he said. “At the end of the day, at the end of my career, I want to look back and say that I helped people and told stories that were important and that promoted change.”
The summa cum laude graduate was named an Outstanding Undergraduate Student for the Fall 2020 Cronkite Convocation, scheduled for Dec. 14, and was also named to the Kappa Tau Alpha National Honor Society.
We caught up with McKim to get his thoughts on his Cronkite experience at ASU and his future plans.
Question: What was your “aha!” moment when you realized you wanted to study journalism?
Answer: When I was about 12 years old, my dad made me watch this “60 Minutes” special on the 9/11 coverage, because it was the anniversary of 9/11. I thought it was just the greatest story they told, following this fire department team throughout their whole day during 9/11. … That day, I started thinking about how I wanted to become a journalist.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: The biggest thing is always being inquisitive and saying you don’t know everything. Being an inquisitive journalist, and just an inquisitive person in general, that has kind of changed my outlook on life. Always asking questions, and always fact-checking people — whether that is a good thing or bad thing — that is a change that has happened to me.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: Initially, I chose ASU because I knew I wanted to be in the broadcast side of journalism. All of the other universities and colleges that I toured and traveled to — nothing compared to what ASU offered on the broadcast side. I knew that I wanted to hit the ground running. ASU had the facilities and the faculty that would cater to what I wanted, and they have.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: I have had really great professors that taught me a lot, and I think they all left their own impact on me. I know my television and reporting class with Nicole Koester — I think she was great in giving us advice on not just how to be a good reporter and tell a good story, but also what to look out for. My director in Cronkite News, Heather Dunn, she is great to talk to, great to learn from and get advice from. I thought my videographer teacher, Eduardo Ayala, was a really great videographer and he made me a better videographer.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: I would say do as much as you can, whether it's a digital story or a broadcast story. Volunteer. Take your professional program seriously. I know a lot of people do it (a professional program) because you have to do it for credit and just get it out of the way, but take advantage of it.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: I think the library on the second floor next to the First Amendment Forum in the Cronkite School. I’ve done a lot of homework there, especially when I really needed to focus on getting things done. I would take a few study breaks, but I felt it was nice and quiet and it was a good place to get your homework done.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: My plan after graduation is to work at a local TV station — wherever I get an offer. I’m in talks with a bunch of stations right now. My plan is to start my career off at a TV station — whether it is reporting, anchoring or producing — and get my career started off on the right foot and see where it takes me.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: Right now, I think it would be the coronavirus. Those funds (could be used) for vaccine research or PPE funding for hospitals and countries that maybe aren’t as well prepared as the United States. We are one of the worst in infections and deaths. I think there are other countries that really don’t have the facilities we have right now, so I think helping in the areas where there are gaps and tackling this worldwide pandemic would be the wisest decision with $40 million to help the world.
Written by Lisa Diethelm