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Jimmy Vielkind: words of wisdom

Jimmy Vielkind held nothing back when talking to University at Albany students.

The 24-year-old reporter spends his days immersed in the realm of politics down at the state Capitol, as the political correspondent for the New York Observer.

“I get to write about our state as it circles the drain,” Vielkind said.

For the last year he has spent 40-50 hours a week either reporting, writing, or reviewing everything that is New York State politics.

With a bachelor degree in urban studies from Columbia University, journalism was a self-pursued career Vielkind started towards as a high school grad.

In 2003, fresh out of Shenandoah High, Vielkind got his first break as a reporter for The Chronicle in Glens Falls, N.Y. His first story, the opening of a new rollercoaster that broke down on the press-test run at The Great Escape, showed him just how interesting being a reporter is.

“Six years later, here I am. That’s why I became a reporter, because it was fun.”

In 2007 Vielkind started working as a street reporter for the Times Union and in October 2008 he left to join the Observer.

He has always been interested in covering politics and the Observer gave him the opportunity. “The sh*t our state government does is absolutely mind boggling,” Vielkind said. “There is so much b.s. in politics, you can’t comprehend how much is b.s.” he tried to explain to the students. As a journalist it is Vielkind’s job to shift through it all.

Being a writer for the Observer, Vielkind is encouraged to use a strong voice throughout his work. When you read one of his stories on Paterson or the Senate, it may not sound completely objective. However, it is his mix of objectivity and sensibility that shows the truth of what is happening.

“When something is b.s just present it as is,” Vielkind explained. He is not tiptoeing around a completely neutral tone but presenting his subjects in a clear-cut light.

What gives Vielkind, and other reporters in his field, the ability to interject somewhat of themselves into their work is the dedication to knowing what is actually going on and understanding when something is not right.

From 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. he is at the Capitol. As a one-man band he updates his own blog five times a week, shoots and edits video and photos, and records his own audio to give readers a 360-degree view.

“It’s a job that will suck a lot of life out of you,” Vielkind admits. “I’ve blocked off my life to prepare to be ruined.”

He never knows what is going to happen and he has to be immersed at all times. Although he hates that he’s lied to more and he misses being invited into real people’s homes to talk about what is going on, Vielkind has found a home prodding the political giants who control our state.
 

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