Q&A with Stony Brook 40 Under 40 Honoree Stephanie Brumsey ’09

Stephanie Brumsey ’09 is a Segment Producer for the Kasie DC Show on MSNBC and one of Stony Brook University’s 2019 40 Under 40 honorees. Stephanie took some time to answer our questions about her new role at MSNBC, managing her schedule and lessons she has learned.

Q: Let’s go back to your time at SBU. Why did you decide to attend Stony Brook University and major in journalism? 

A: Funny story, my Godmother is a Stony Brook alum and was really invested in me attending SBU. She took me on a tour, told me about her time at the school and touted all its virtues – it worked. I decided to attend… as a psychology major! The journalism major was new. I chose my major when Dean Howie told an anecdote about looking in a freezer during [News Literacy] JRN 101.

Q: What was your first journalism job and what was a lesson you learned from the experience? 

A: My first job was freelancing for this venture called MSGVarsity. I was covering high school sports on Long Island, as MSG tried to establish a market for families of high school students to enjoy sports coverage the way NCAA does. I learned TONS from the experience. Invaluable things like, ‘when you’re ducking from a speeding ball, take the camera with you.’ And, ‘don’t wear sandals to a baseball game.’

But the most important thing I learned was to lean into assignments. This was a digital network before streaming was big and iPhones were a thing (I still miss my Blackberry). The network wanted content, but had no idea how to get or produce it. I took it upon myself to initiate interviews and highlights that weren’t requested, in turn they were more open to other ideas I had.

Q: Congratulations on the new job as a Segment Producer for the Kasie DC show at MSNBC! What is most exciting about this new role? 

A: I am excited to learn new ways to use the various skills I’ve learned over the years. I’ve never worked in Cable!

Q: Before MSNBC, you had been a producer at Reuters for four years. Tells us a little about your time at Reuters. Do you have an experience or story that sticks with you? 

A: I loved Reuters! My colleagues were so smart and willing to share. The amount of institutional knowledge in that office is immense. There are two things that stick out to me.

1) I got my job at Reuters because of a chance meeting at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). My friend dragged me to an 8 am session – I am NOT a morning person – and afterwards I spoke to the presenter about this new project they were starting called ReutersTV. I said I was a producer and showed him this video I shot and edited on my phone. Now, today that isn’t as impressive, but 4-5 years ago? A video, with lower thirds, b-roll and audio mixing – where all the elements were shot on the phone was unheard of. He took my resume and called me in for an interview a week later.

2) I covered the 2016 inauguration and women’s march. I won’t get too detailed about the issues I faced, I’m sure you can imagine that as a black female member of the press, it wasn’t all roses. But you could feel the charge in the air as the world turned its eyes to Washington to see history being made. Covering the millions of people who showed up to the women’s march and getting their stories, interviewing Trump supporters who didn’t feel represented in Washington, talking to DC natives and career politicians about the shift they felt was coming – it was one of the best assignments I’ve ever had.

Q: You were very involved in extracurriculars as an undergraduate, and have continued to be involved in organizations outside of work like the Newswomen’s Club of New York. How do you manage such a busy schedule? Any advice for students or your fellow alumni? 

A: My calendar is my best friend. Everything goes in there and if it’s not in the calendar, then it doesn’t exist. I even schedule a date night with myself every week so that I have at least one night a week to just… be home with Netflix. You may be thinking, “that sounds like a lot.” And I’m here to tell you – it is. Haha.

Seriously, I enjoy my work as Vice President of the Newswomen’s Club of New York and my involvement with the club has been so positive for my career growth. I’ve been able to sharpen my skills in several areas and networking is a breeze. Besides being diligent with your calendar, my other advice is to make sure you join at least one club and be active in it. It’s not just about widening your network but also about the programming you’ll be exposed to and the different opportunities.

Q: What is one thing that every student journalist should do before they graduate? 

A:  Comb through your social media accounts.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

A: Be unapologetically yourself. That might be the biggest thing I’ve learned in my career. The news is neutral, we are not. I’m not saying that your Twitter feed should be hyper liberal or conservative – don’t do that. I’m saying that your personality and your experiences play a huge role in your career, even if you didn’t think they would. In my interview for MSGVarsity, I spoke of my time in the [SBU] marching band following a question about my knowledge of sports. Just my luck, the man interviewing me was ALSO in the marching band when he was in school and we spoke about this shared experience for 20 minutes!  Random, but true. Oh! And always remember the industry is super small.

To learn more about Stephanie and the rest of the 40 Under 40 honorees, click here.