Erin Lawlor graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Digital Media in 2023.
The COVID-19 pandemic allowed people to think, reevaluate decisions, and make changes that aligned with their passions; that is just what Erin Lawlor did.
“I came into school as a child advocacy and policy major with a double minor in social work and musical theater. I thought I had wanted to be a lawyer,” said Lawlor. “Surprise, I did not. During COVID, I was a second-semester freshman, and I had a lot of time to think. I started really getting into the news and realized misinformation was a huge problem.”
Helping people comes in different forms, and Erin found a way to help others that did not require her to become a lawyer.
“I always knew I wanted to help people, I just didn’t know how,” said Lawlor. “I took writing for the media with Professor Tara George over the summer, and it sparked a whole new passion for me. So, I dropped child advocacy and policy and the social work minor and tried to take advantage of as much as possible in such little time. It ended up taking a while to go through, so I didn’t officially change majors until junior year, but I wanted to graduate on time, so I worked hard to get it done!”
With hard work and determination, she secured three internships in three different industries.
“My first writing internship was with RZR News, which at the time was a brand-new political writing platform. Although it was a great internship, I realized I did not want to do politics,” said Lawlor. “I loved writing, so I then got an internship with The Nash News, which combined my love for music and writing.”
While interning at The Nash News, she began another internship with a local media outlet.
“I got invited to be in the internship class at Montclair so then I was also writing for TapInto Westfield,” said Lawlor. “These were all so different, but taught me so much. It made me realize how much telling different stories each day really made a difference to the community.”
Internships allowed Erin to discover what she enjoyed, and her experiences gave her a foundation of skills for her current job.
“Writing for print and writing for TV is very different, but it still helped me so much as a multimedia journalist,” said Lawlor. “At my current job, I have to write web articles, so it helps me there. But it also helped me gain more confidence doing interviews and setting up stories. I was so set on doing print journalism until I took News Lab and absolutely fell in love with TV.”
While studying at Montclair State University, Erin was involved with The Montclarion.
“The Montclarion helped me in more ways than you could imagine,” said Lawlor. “It was the first real journalism experience I had and the first thing I did after switching my major. I had a support system there, and everyone had a common goal to succeed and deliver stories and news to our campus. It made me fall in love with the field even more. Again, this was another print journalism role, but it helped me so much to get me where I am right now. It is how my real passion and fire started.”
Currently, Erin is a multimedia journalist with WBNG TV 12 and is making a name for herself in the industry.
“I am the first morning reporter they have had in 8 years, which is exciting, but also a bit challenging,” said Lawlor. “In a way, I’m paving the road for the next person who becomes the morning reporter once I move on. I work from 3 a.m. to 12:30, and I work with the best morning crew I could ask for. Everyone is so supportive and has helped me grow so much in these 4 months. I do a story each day and when there is breaking news in the mornings, I will go to that, and report live in the field. I am so grateful to start here in the southern tier of New York State and cannot wait to grow even more as time goes on!”
Preparing for a job interview is vital because sometimes you may get a curveball like Erin did.
“For every interview I did, even WBNG, they gave me two writing tests,” said Lawlor. “I did not know this was going to happen. WBNG’s was timed so after my interview they gave me 30 minutes to write a script for a VO (video) based on a fake breaking news situation and a web article. This shocked me. I mean it was fun, I liked the challenge, but it is definitely not something people talk about or prepare you for!”
Though it is difficult to narrow down just one thing she loves about her current role, Erin enjoys how her stories help others.
“I love telling the good news stories in the community,” said Lawlor. “Being a morning reporter I kind of have the freedom to set up whatever stories I want for the week. I really love finding ones that will help the community or just a good news story to put a smile on people’s faces, especially when news can be so dark sometimes.”
Erin credits the professors at Montclair State University for helping her become the journalist she is today.
“I tell everyone, and I cannot say it enough, Montclair helped me immensely to prepare for my career,” said Lawlor. “Professors like Siegelin, Effron, Gantt, McCarthy, and George, who really care and want to see their students succeed, helped me so much. Being pushed hard, and receiving honest feedback and criticism pushed me as a student journalist to becoming a good professional journalist. I would not have had a lot of the opportunities I did at Montclair if it was not for my professors.”
Her advice to current students is to network, utilize LinkedIn, and ask people for help.
“We hear it from professors so much, but they are completely right when they say network, network, network,” said Lawlor. “I took Career Management senior year and I am glad I did. The two professors of that class were amazing and helped in so many ways. The biggest thing I took from that class was using the people you know. If they want to help you, they will. It never hurts to ask. Put yourself out there and create a name for yourself. It is hard at first, but once you gain confidence, it will push you so far! Networking got me a freelance associate producer job at News12 NJ while I was still in school! Networking and LinkedIn. It’ll be your best friend.”
Erin is thriving in her current position but would love to report to those in her home state.
“I love New Jersey,” said Lawlor. “Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, so I definitely want to make it back. I love telling news and good news, and I would absolutely love to do that in my home state. So, getting back to NJ to do what I love in the place I love is a huge goal of mine.”
Written by, Sophia Ruggiero