In the world of journalism, there is always a story. Whether good or bad, someone is there to get the scoop first to tell it the world. For Tony Betton Jr., he’d rather focus on the positives. As an active reporter, journalist, and speaker, he has gained a plethora of experience in the news and entertainment industry. Although his career has just begun full-time with an acceptance of a job right after college graduation, he already knows how to work any room and the importance of communication in his field.
For those who may not know you, who is Tony Betton Jr.?
Tony Betton Jr. is a multi-media personality, reporter, journalist, host, publicist, speaker, and entrepreneur. I could go on, but I wear a lot of hats and do a lot of different things. I graduated from Georgia State University in August of 2019 and recently became an anchor after that. I’m starting a new job in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at WPTA’s ABC21. I’ll be a weekend morning anchor, so on Saturdays and Sundays, I will produce the morning news. During the week, I will be doing the morning report with some social media producing in there as well. So I’m super excited about that.
Congratulations on your new job! As a recent GSU grad, do you feel like it prepared you for your career? Or was it more from your outside experience?
I think it was a mixture of both. I had a really good balance between my on-campus involvement and my off-campus involvement. At GSU, I was heavily involved on campus–I was president of organizations, I charted my own organization, and I joined a business fraternity. Outside of campus, I had internships all the time. I always stayed connected with the internships I worked for outside of school. I also had my own company. Creating my own content and doing my own thing kept me going aw well. I was around so many other people who were doing a lot of great things and I think that that also inspired me as well. Being at GSU allowed me to connect with a lot of great people, who I’m still close to today, and ultimately helped me grow my career.
Tell us more about your company, The Rep Zone.
I started The Rep Zone in 2015 as a multi-media platform because I wanted to highlight the positives that were going on in our community. We inspire, educate, and entertain by doing coverage of a variety of news. I would go to events and would highlight those honorees, awardees, and attendees who were doing positive things like charitable events or community engagement events. I wanted to recognize what was going on in our community that may not have been talked about.
Through everything that you’ve done so far, what would you say was the pivotal moment in your career that solidified you were supposed to be in the media and entertainment business?
I definitely would say taking the internship with Good Morning America. I’ve had a lot of blessings and moments, but my dream has always been to be on Good Morning America. When I was accepted for the internship, I knew that all of the hard work, the connections, the long nights and everything that I had gone through was worth it. For me to have been accepted and be amongst these great individuals, it showed that this is definitely meant to be.
While working in New York, was there any huge differences from working in Atlanta?
Oh, my goodness that’s a very interesting question. Yes, there is a difference, but I think the difference is with the people. In Atlanta, there’s a lot of personalities, but they’re not necessarily journalists. There’s a lot of people who want to be on red carpets and do interviews, but don’t really do the journalism/storytelling of it. There’s no digging in, getting to know someone and asking different questions; instead, it’s who are you wearing tonight or how does it feel to be here? What research have you done prior to? Were you able to ask them about something that happened on their show? Honestly, I think this happens everywhere but I definitely see it in Atlanta and New York. They’re different cities, but the same people I see in Atlanta are the same people I see in New York, just of a different flow.
What would you say is the most important resource or skill to have when working in media and entertainment?
I think the biggest thing is communication. Communication covers so much. Whether or not it’s you communicating with someone that you’re interviewing with or just talking to them. Are you connecting with them? We go up to someone who may be in the worst time of their life, and we’re trying to get feelings, emotions, and answers out of them. That’s hard to do. Along with that is following up and building those relationships. Knowing how to send a quality e-mail, knowing how to handle conflict, being able to communicate properly. Everything that has to do with media has to do with communication; whether or not it’s verbal or written. So if you’re in the business of communication and you can’t communicate, then this isn’t the right field.
Who is your inspiration in the news and entertainment industry?
I have taken certain things from Steve Harvey, Oprah, Robin Roberts, Ellen, Ryan Seacrest, Diane Sawyer, Kevin Frazier, Scott Evans. I believe in learning from different people’s experiences because everyone has different things that they can teach you. Everyone has a different journey.
What do you hope to change or bring to the industry as you continue to work in journalism, news, and entertainment?
I want to bring originality mostly in the media industry because even though I’m a journalist, I want to be myself. For example, I’ve seen a journalist, who is an actual reporter, but he also dances and outs together choreography. I also know of a weatherman, but he sings. So on one of the shows, he sang The Star, Star-Spangled Banner and I just love seeing things like that. I love the freedom of being able to be creative and get out of our comfort zone. There’s always going to be certain things you have to do as a journalist, but I also believe we can be original and creative in our own way.
What piece of advice would you like to pass along to others who aspire to be in the industry?
Well, I’d like to leave things in threes. So I think one would be stay committed. You have to keep going, you can’t quit. You can have a bad year, a bad couple of months, things could be feeling real slow; but if you quit, then it’s never going to come. Don’t be afraid to take those risks. If you mess up, take that Loss. Sometimes the loss can help you, sometimes it won’t. The other is, once again, to communicate. Communication will get you anywhere. It will lead you to new doors, it will get you stories that you never thought you would get. It will, and it will give you answers that you never thought you would receive. And the third thing I would have to say is to be passionate. The reward will truly feel different when your passion is being fulfilled. When you have these three things plus the confidence to just do it, you will be unstoppable.