Start Here / Never Stop Podcast

The UNC School of Media and Journalism’s tagline Start Here / Never Stop captures the idea that what students learn and experience at the school prepares them for successful careers and transitions in a dynamic media environment.

 

This podcast highlights the meaning behind the tagline through conversations between Dean Susan King and influential alumni, faculty, staff, students and speakers.
 

 

Carolyn Van Houten '14 | Justin Lyons '06 | Rochelle Riley '81 | Brooke Baldwin '01 | Jeff Mittelstadt '12 (M.A.) | Nikole Hannah-Jones '03 (M.A.) | Brad Hamm '96 (Ph.D.) | Aaron Dodson '15 | Roxane Coche '13 (Ph.D.) | Leigh Goodwyn '88 | Tarini Parti '12 | Lisa Stockman '91, '13 (M.A.) | Kathryn Walker '16 | Jess Clark '15 (M.A.) | Claudia Howard '03 | Emily Steel '06 | Alexandra Rizk Keane '14 | Pailin Wedel '04 | Rachel McMahan '17 (M.A.) | Parth Shah '15 | Jason Cooper '01 | Christina Vidal '12 | Natasha Duarte '11, '16 (M.A.) | Brian Strong '00 | Kat Downs Mulder '06 | Lisa Arney '03 (M.A.) | Reema Khrais '12 | Lindsay Shookus '02 | Robyn Tomlin '96 | Andrew Schorr '71 | Kit Hoover '92 | Chris Brown ’91 and C.L. Brown '94 | Haleh Moddasser '85 | Patrick Winn '03 | Delia D'Ambra '14 | David Tinson '96 | Covering Marginalized Communities: Stories From the Field | Grace Raynor '15 | Ashlan Cousteau '02 | Leah Ashburn '92 | Stefan Prelog '96 (M.A.) | Caitlin Owens '14  | Allen Bosworth '81 | Anu Anand '95 | Ilana Finley '00 | Bill Morton '62 | Corrie MacLaggan '02 | Jacqueline Charles '94 | Joyce Fitzpatrick '76 | Walter Hussman, Jr. '68  | Jordan Fieulleteau '16, '18 (M.A.)  | Lauren Berry ’08 | Julie "Jules" Dixon '91 | Jeremy Spearman '11
 

Dec. 9, 2019

Jeremy Spearman '11 is the executive producer for WNCN in Raleigh-Durham. He received his master's in strategic communication at American University in 2018. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Nov. 20, 2019

Julie "Jules" Dixon '91 is an NC Media & Journalism Hall of Fame publicist and a senior communications strategist with over 28 years of top-tier expertise in crisis communications, social media relations, sports marketing, integrated marketing, entertainment, corporate communications, internal communications and diversity/inclusion recruitment. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Nov. 12, 2019

Lauren Berry ’08 is the managing editor for data-driven news and automation at Bloomberg, where she manages a team of editors across the Americas that analyzes regular patterns in financial statements. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Oct. 10, 2019

Jordan Fieulleteau '16, '18 (M.A.) is a research fellow at the American Voices Project, a project undertaken by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, Princeton University’s Center for Research on Child Wellbeing and the American Institutes for Research. Click here to read more

This is the Start Here / Never Stop Podcast with Dean Susan King at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

00:00:16 Dean Susan King: Hello, this is Susan King — for the first time on this podcast saying — the Dean of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media. And with us one of our top grads —a double Tar Heel — Jordan Fieulleteau class of ’16, and class of ’18 with a master's degree. Welcome, Jordan to the first Hussman podcast.

00:00:34 Jordan Fieulleteau: Thank you so much, I'm happy to be on here to speak with you today.

00:00:38 King: And we're very excited because you've had such an interesting career as one of the athletes a varsity athlete here at UNC. So you've gone from football to journalism — from a master's degree here in North Carolina to Stanford and Princeton fellowship. From starting here to maybe going to law or Congress so you're never stopping. This has been quite a journey for you.

00:01:03 Fieulleteau: Yeah, it's been incredible — been a very humbling experience. And it's shown me that working hard and really believing in yourself and the people around you can really get you far and where you want to go. And my experience at UNC was incredible and unique just because I was able to play football and also get a top-notch education. And I knew from as soon as I got the UNC I wanted to be in the journalism school. And there was something that was very important to me to like make sure I got into the journalism school when I was applying — because I knew in high school that's what I wanted to be as well. I actually toured the journalism school when I was getting recruited, and it kind of like sold me on UNC.

00:01:54 King: Oh, I'm glad to hear that. I'm glad it wasn't just the Kenan football stadium. But in fact, you were the sports editor weren't you at Wakefield High?

00:02:02 Fieulleteau: Yeah, so my junior and senior year I was —  and it was kind of a way for me to escape from football. And I guess that's something I've always carried and still carry today.

00:02:11: *Football Cheering*

00:02:14 King: But you came here as an athlete and a serious athlete. You were recruited pretty early— so talk a little bit about the role of football in your life. And in selecting you pretty early on, it's not only an athlete — but as a leader.

00:02:29 Fieulleteau:  So football to this day honestly it's still a very big part of my life. And I mean it was the mechanism for me to get to where I am today — my ability to play football obviously — afforded me the opportunity to go to UNC and not have to pay any money. And football was always instrumental in my life just because I started playing that right after my dad passed away. So it was kind of like a mechanism for me to like get away from kind of like the thoughts that came with that tragedy. And then I just dedicated my career to him. And I didn't imagine like the success I had in like high school and stuff. Yeah, I'm very thankful to have been able to play football at a high level — and to where it afforded me other opportunities.

00:03:14 King: And it's a tough sport though — you know, it's I mean it's a team sport— that's an amazing power of it. But you know — it's a brutal sport. So what was it about it that you found so powerful and appealing?

00:03:29 Fieulleteau: Really is like the friendships — like yeah, football is like a really good sport to play. And obviously, it comes with a lot of like publicity and like it just playing against such good competition. And obviously, it's just so it's like the most popular sport in America, which makes it that much more fun to play, because everybody's always watching. But really for me, it was like the  friendships. I made some of like the best friends I ever have for the rest of my life, most likely playing football at UNC. And even in high school, I still have a lot of my friends from high school football. And I feel like it teaches you lessons that unless you play with a team sport with 11 different players — like each person whose dad was like unique and everybody has to do something collectively all get to the same success. I think it's like something that is very unique. And even like today, I noticed like my experience in football helps me like professionally as well.

00:04:23 King: But you also had a turning point in football when you decided that you were going to spend more time here in the journalism school — and kind of gave up football as the preoccupation of your UNC years. Tell me about that turning point.

00:04:37 Fieulleteau: Yeah. So like towards like the middle-to- end of my redshirt junior season — which was my fourth season at UNC I decided to step away from the football team. And just because of a multitude of different reasons I wasn't happy with — like playing time. Also just didn’t see like eye-to-eye with where the program or where the coaching direction of the program going. And also, I had gotten accepted and had already started my master's at UNC. And as soon as I left the football team, I saw myself —saw a lot of doors opening that wouldn't have been opened unless I had stepped away from football — at least for that one year that I did. And so I was able to go to Europe as a delegate my first spring and in my master's program. And I would never have been able to do that if I was like doing spring football. And now it's like an incredible opportunity. And that's when I started getting really interested in politics. Because I got to meet like some of the representatives in the European Parliament when I was there for the EU, and stuff like that. So that really got me more interested in politics. And it's kind of like today where I'm very, very, always on the pulse of what's going on the news and the politics.

00:06:05 King: Yeah, you saw the public square, which we sort of emphasize here so much for those who are in strategic communications, like you are doing in graduate school. And you were intrigued by that public square what you could do there.

00:06:17 Fieulleteau: Yeah, for sure. So I always I mean, even in undergrad when I did PR, and when I was applying to the graduate program, I mean, PR is everywhere. In every arena, whether it's sports, whether it's politics, whether it's work, whether it's, I mean, it's just it touches every aspect of American life, political advertising, and I knew that that was going to be like a long term thing that I wanted to do, just because I felt like it was more secure than football, but also because I just felt a very, I was immediately like drawn to that field. And even to this day, I'm doing a lot of PR stuff, even though the role that I'm in as a research fellow. So I see that like, every day. And I'm very happy to be like, I always say like a lot of people don't use their degree when they graduate. But I'm very happy to say that I'm definitely using mine.

00:07:14 King: And I know there were two really important women in your life while you were here. Your mother, Kendra Clark, and your mentor Trevy McDonald.

00:07:23 Fieulleteau: Yeah, so actually talking to me this morning. And so, first of all, my mother definitely wouldn't be nowhere near where I am today without her, all the sacrifices she made moving up in New York when we were 11, as my dad passed away, and being a single parent in America is just very hard to actually with the dynamic of raising two young black men. So I thank her for everything. And then Trevy. It's kind of like the coincidence, I just took her class one day, or one semester, and invited her to football practice. And then so like a policy, we had to like, invite Professor to practice, spring. And I invited her and then we had dinner after and I thought I was thinking about applying. And she convinced me to apply to grad school, when I didn't really think I could get in and ended up getting in. And it was honestly like a relationship that I still have to this day. And something that really grew throughout graduate school and in graduate school, a lot more worthwhile. Because having that support when like things weren't going well, or if I hadn't question there was always like her office, office door’s always open. And still is to this day, even though I'm not there anymore.

00:08:32 King: That's to me the difference between our program and many. You get professors who are with you for a lifetime — but really bring something extra to the to the experience.

00:08:41 Fieulleteau: Yeah, for sure , you know, I keep in touch with a lot of different professors in the J-school and high EVK. So yeah, that was one of the best parts about the journalism school is like the relationships.

00:08:58 King: Now when you left us, you got it really what sounds like a very cool job in the digital world at Facebook. Wow. And then you went on for this fellowship that's really focused on income inequality. That's, that's pretty different. Tell us about that.

00:09:13 Fieulleteau: So the fellowship has been very eye opening, to say the least. So I guess the premise in a little bit about the study is across this year, we're going to be interviewing 5,000 households, which represent 300 million households in America. And all these households are randomly selected. So the city I'm in was randomly selected in the neighborhoods and cities were randomly selected. And that helps us get a representative snapshot of what life is like in America for people in 2019. And I joined the project because I felt like a big aspect of it was listening to the stories of the American people, I feel like with politicians, politicians aren't listening to the constituents, and the level of detail that me and 50 other research fellows are listening to respondents this year. And we're hearing the life stories of people were hand their suggestions to what they think can work better in our lives. And what works, what's working well in their lives. And I think that the people should always have an input into what policies are drawn, and what policies are crafted that are going to benefit them. And that's a big aspect of the study. And especially people in high poverty areas need more investment and more, more attention, and more resources drawn into those c ommunities. And what what are they think is going to work well for them and what's not working well for them? Well, we don't know, unless we actually gone to those communities and hear those people speak.

00:10:48 King: Some people may see Oh, that's a far, far cry from where you began here yet. I bet your quarterback friend — your roommate here and his Chicago bear star. He still holds you as one of his best friends, he probably wants some of those insights you're getting.

00:11:05 Fieulleteau: Yeah, so I mean, even in the city, he lives in Chicago, multitude issues that are going on there. And those communities and that people in Chicago from this project, and I always keep them updated about and him and all my friends about like, what am I seeing in the field. Like, what are the some of the trends that we're seeing that the public on paying attention to right now. And I know he’s very happy for me and the fellowship. And it's definitely gotten a positive feedback from all my friends about what I'm seeing in the field. And just like the desire to hope, hopefully make change.

00:11:39 King: So what would you tell students today, you know, they come in sometimes not sure where they're going to go, you were a little bit like that you pick PR, you got a graduate degree, what's the advice you share with our students about their future?

00:11:52 Fieulleteau: Take it one day at a time, but always think, with the future in mind. So all the decisions you're making now are going to affect your future, your future life in the future decisions that you're making. So I'd say always think with the future in mind and decisions you make today are going to affect you later down the road. So I'd say just be very calculated with the decisions you make. And it's okay if you don't know what major you want to do the first day or the second day, or even after a year, because the journalism school first off has like 15 different concentrations, and everybody and then we're going to help you so don't be afraid to ask for help. That was actually one of the biggest things for me is I was never really afraid to ask for help. And I noticed that a lot of people are and the resources that are available. If you just ask for help people want to help you. So definitely never be afraid to ask for help.

00:12:42 King: Well, Jordan, we always knock on your door for some help. And we always want you to come back and it's a big year for football. Mack is back and people are excited, but we're excited about where you're headed. We're glad you're never going to stop. So thanks for being our first Hussman podcast. Great to talk to you and we'll see you soon.

 

September 9, 2019

Walter Hussman, Jr. '68 With a $25 million gift in unrestricted endowed funds, Hussman, his wife Ben and their family make a significant investment in not only students, faculty and staff at the Hussman School, but also in the future of a profession which has the power to shape the world for the better. Click here to read more

00:00:08 Dean Susan King: Hello, I'm Susan King, the Dean of while I'm so honored to say for the first time, the Dean of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it Walter Hussman?

00:00:20 Walter Hussman, Jr.: Sounds good to me.

00:00:22 King: This is such a big moment for the school. And I hope for you, you have made an amazing gift to the school and its future. Why?

00:00:31 Hussman: Well, we really, you know, we love the University of North Carolina, and we love the school of journalism. But we also love journalism with a passion and I certainly do. Our family really does. And it's an important time in American journalism. And it's an important time to renew the principles and the standards and the values that have stood the test of time in journalism. And it's so important to me that the school has adopted that type of statement of core values, to not only teach its students, but to stand up and show the rest of America to lead in this regard.

00:01:09 King: We're so honored to be able to be part of this at this moment — and also you’re a graduate — so so is your daughter, masters of our school and undergraduate. So this is a real tradition in the school. And to say, though, that you'll put your name on the school really is, it's not something one does without deep thinking,

00:01:29 Hussman: Exactly. Well, I wouldn't be putting my name on the school if you weren't the dean.

00:01:34 King: *laughs*

00:01:35 Hussman: And if the school wasn't willing to adopt a statement of core values that they are adopting, that I think is so important to the future of journalism, and America — which I think is so important to the future of our country and our democracy.

00:01:49 King: And those are the core values you learned at our school. So let’s talk about that. I remember our...

00:01:53 Hussman: Yes.

00:01:55 King: ... earliest conversations where you started to craft those core values that are in your newspaper every day.

00:01:59 Hussman: You know, I was thinking about that. And I learned those things in the School of Journalism from 1964 to 1968 —not exactly the middle, but a little past the middle of the 20th century. And it was really the 19th century in America, journalism was a very partisan endeavor. And it really changed around the turn of the century. And interestingly enough, it changed for some business reasons, because a lot of the publishers then — we have to remember, there was no radio or television or any other medium besides newspapers, then —  they realized that if they were not partisan, and they were more impartial, they would get more readers and newspapers got a lot of their money from subscriptions, then. So for most of the 20th century, there was a great tradition of trying to be as objective and as fair as possible. And those are the things I learned in Howell Hall and the journalism school and early to late 60s. And those are the things that I think make journalism so valuable to America.

00:02:50 King: Well, I'm excited that we're going to have those core values etched in stone in our lobby in the school now at Carroll Hall. And to me, there's so many pieces of those values we could emphasize — but for me, you're really saying that the public matters that we serve the public, as journalists, as communicators.

00:03:22 Hussman: Absolutely, we should serve the public. And we should have more confidence in the public, that they are smart enough, intelligent enough to sift through all the facts, and determine what they believe to be the truth. So yes, I think we do serve the public — journalism certainly serves the public. And that's, that's our mission.

00:03:44 King: And you believe that the public can make their own decisions if journalism gives them the facts and the information they need to make decisions.

00:03:51 Hussman: Right. I think as long as we cover both sides, we let both sides speak for themselves. We don't need to take sides; we shouldn't take sides in reporting. Of course, that's the important part of journalism is reporting news, there is a part of it that's providing opinions. And that's fine to take opinions and try to decide which side you favor. But in reporting the news — know, your job is to report the facts and let the readers decide for themselves.

00:04:20 King: Let's talk about this moment, the news industry has lost a lot of America's trust. That seemed to be important for you right now that you emphasize the importance of journalism, because you're worried about this moment in the field.

00:04:33 Hussman: Yes, have really thought about a lot about that it really hurts to see that the news media has lost so much trust among the public. You know, shortly after I got out of journalism school in ’68, and the early 70s to mid 70s. Journalism was probably more highly regarded that at any time that I can remember  — because of Watergate, and because of the courage of newspapers — like the Washington Post and the New York Times, and others, who not only covered the news, but tried to uncover what was going on. And students flocked to journalism schools, mainly because of that. So there was great credibility there. I've thought a lot about how we lost so much of the public trust. Some of it is because we're constantly being attacked — either by politicians, or even some in them, the media themselves — there's constant attacks on “the mainstream media” well, they're obviously some of the mainstream media have made mistakes, etc. But we published newspapers were over 100 years, I guess. We're definitely mainstream media, and we're trying our very best to be objective and fair as we possibly can. So I'm not sure there's a lot we can do about others criticizing us. I do think it's worth us in the news business, trying to look at — re-examine — and look at ourselves and try to say, “are we part of the reason maybe we've lost some of this trust?” And if so, why? And, and try to say, if we just go back to the principles, the values and the standards that have stood the test of time in journalism, we can re-earn the trust of the public. That's why I think that's so important today.

00:06:27 King: And there's also so much change technologically. We have now all the digital opportunities. That's a challenge as well as the economic disruption — so the journalism schools glad to be on the cutting edge of this kind of change.

00:06:40 Hussman: Yes. Well, tech technology generally, I think is a good thing. It generally lowers costs and provides people more options, etc. But you know, it's interesting, because today as newspapers — well, beginning about 20 years ago — many newspapers developed their own websites. And so now there was a new format for newspapers presenting news, as well as television and other news organizations — and that became the website. But lots of other people could create their own websites and say they were news. And but did they really have the same standards, principles and values that got taught in journalism schools? Some did, but obviously, some didn't. And what a lot of people would see those websites where they didn't have those values, and they look pretty much exactly like, the websites of newspapers or television stations that did have those values. They start to get a little the public gets a little bit confused. And I think they start sometimes thanking the people who do have good professional journalistic standards are kind of mixed in with the people who don't. And I think that's eroded some of our credibility. If it was a newspaper, you know, or it was a CBS Evening News or something that had a reputation. It was a unique format that other people couldn't easily replicate. It was easier to trust that I think, but once we started having the exact same format, as people that didn't have those values, I think it that's part of the erosion in the Trump public trust.

00:08:20 King: You're going to be making a big statement to our students who are optimistic and young and choosing journalism as their field. What do you want them to know that you're saying to them? What do you want them to think about?

00:08:31 Hussman: Listen, I don't know which mediums are going to endure. I don't know how well newspapers will endure. I don't know how well TV stations are going to endure in the future, but one thing is going to endure — and that's journalism — because people want the facts. They want to make up their own mind. They want to be given the facts by people who adhere to standards and core values and principles of good journalism — like being impartial, being objective, being as fair as possible, being even-handed. And those are the kind of people they're going to trust. And there's always going to be a demand for people who do that. So I think the future's bright for journalism and whatever form it's going to take in the future.

00:09:19 King: I love that. That is optimism. That is hope. And that's what this moment marks. So Walter at this time of change — when you're being an optimist, you see all the questions being raised about our industry. But you're willing to invest in it in a way that other people have not what is making you put your money where your values are?

00:09:39 Hussman: Well, you know, I was thinking about this recently. I just read a book by David Brooks; It's called second mountain. And he talks in there about four different commitments people have. The first commitment he talked about is a commitment to a calling, or a vocation. And he made an interesting point, he's said, you know, your calling may or may not be your career, it may be something else. And I really thought about that. And I thought, you know, most of my career has been newspaper publishing. But that's not really been my calling, my calling has been journalism. And so I think, you know, the thing that is so important — not only now, but in the future. Is not how the news is delivered, and what format or what way, but the fact that it's done in a fair, objective, even-handed way. And that to me, is the importance of journalism. And I think we've got to invest in that, to try to emphasize that to encourage young people to do that. Because it'll pay big dividends for our whole country if we do it.

00:10:50 King: And what do you mean by that? What kind of big dividends?

00:10:52 Hussman: Well, what I mean by that is, if young people decide — hey, look, let's just try to advance our own personal opinion or personal biases or personal thinking. That's not what we need. We need people to go out and report news report facts, let readers decide for themselves. And sure, it's fine to have people who are opinionated, who let people know what their opinions are. But if we don't have the people who are trying to report news in a fair, objective, unbiased way— we're going to be in big trouble in this country.

00:11:33 King: What do you want the public — I may not be as close to the whole profession of journalism to think about this gift you are making to UNC?

00:11:41 Hussman: I think they need to know that there is a journalism school — one of the leading journalism schools in America — that's taken a position to reinforce the core values that have been the strength of news organizations in America: being impartial, being fair, presenting both sides. And, you know, those are old time-tested principles. And I've often heard people say, “Oh, well, you can't be objective everybody's got some biases. So why should you even try?” And I turn them around and say, if I ask one of our readers, what do they want me to say? “Hey, I'm not even going to try to be objective, because I can't be objective,” or do they want me to say, “I'm going to be as objective as I can and try as hard as I can. And, you know, I know I can't be perfect, but I'm going to strive for it.” I think our readers feel a lot more comfortable with the latter argument than they do the former.

00:12:40 King: And I know you believe in a kind of field reporting that says, here's where the facts are. I may think “x” happened, but I've learned “y” happened. And I report why.

00:12:49 Hussman: Absolutely. You know, we've had reporters that work for us. I can remember a time we had an investigative reporter. And he came in and told me the story he was working on. And it was a significant story. And it had to do with a company that was incinerating hazardous materials. And he thought he had a source telling them that these people are overriding the safety standards — intentionally. And he thought he had a story. And he came back later. And he said, You know, I really felt we had it. I've not been able to corroborate it with anyone. And I've now found another source says — that I really trust it says that's just not the case. And he said, I hate it. I've spent a lot of time on this. I kind of got a lot invested in this. But I —it just wouldn't be fair to run that story. So that, you know, that, to me is good journalism. Not only what you publish, but what you don't publish if you think something is not correct.

00:13:45 King: And that's also called courage.

00:13:47 Hussman: Absolutely. You know, and I think it's important for newspapers to show courage. You know, eight all fox said, you know, many years ago to publish the new without fear or favor. It's really interesting when you think of those two words — fear and favor. You know, you shouldn't be fearful of what people in social media are going to say. Heck, they're going to say just about anything.  You shouldn't be fearful of what politicians are going to say — you shouldn't be fearful of what wealthy influential people in the community are going to say. You know, it's also and I found this is often more the case than fear— its favor. People always want you to do them a favor if you're in the news business. And you know, that's not our role to do people favors. Our role is to report the news as fairly as we can. And when we publish opinions to be sure we were publishing as many different sides as we possibly can.

00:14:48 King: I'm glad you're an optimist. I'm glad to believe in tomorrow. And I'm glad you believe in UNC.

00:14:55 Hussman: Absolutely. You know, our readers tell us that, that they love our newspaper —I'm talking about the one where I live in Little Rock, [The] Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. And they really appreciate the reporting we do — they want us to do more of it. They want us to hire more investigative reporters —we do too. We just need a little improvement in the economics to be able to do it. But you know, we get more feedback when we have the type of reporting that uncovers things. But still — even when we uncover things, we give both sides, the ability to state their position. You know, we don't need to tell our readers, okay, this ads right and this ads wrong, quote both sides and let the readers read their quotes. And a lot of times that read it. But you know, that's another thing we need to realize — a lot of our readers are smarter than I am. They're smarter than some of our editors, they're smarter than some of our reporters. I mean, some of these people are really smart, putting on are they smarter, they may have a lot of knowledge in some fields, we don't have nearly as much knowledge in. So I trust our readers to try to sort through it all and make the right decisions.

00:16:12 King: And I have to of course mention Eliza who is part of understanding that changing audience and the changing demographics of your readership. And she's our grad — and she's part of the future of the school and your company.

00:16:26 Hussman: She is, you know, when Eliza got her master's in journalism there at the University of North Carolina and was trying to decide on our career and one of our options was to come back and work for our company. And I told her, you know, you need to think hard and long about this because the fortunes of newspapers are not doing so well. And she said “look, I really believe in the mission of journalism. And I really think it's important to have a family owned business that's not looking quarter to quarter and is looking at the long run on we do.” And so — she has faith in the future of journalism. And that's very encouraging to me. 

00:17:08 King: And we've got the long run. We’ll be talking in 10, 20, and 50 years about what these new generation of Hussman School of Journalism [and] Media students think about tomorrow. Thank you Walter for this amazing historic gift.

00:17:23 Hussman: Sure. Thank you.

 

August 21, 2019

Joyce Fitzpatrick ’76 is the owner of Fitzpatrick Communications, Inc. with thirty years of experience helping clients use public relations to their advantage. Click here to read more

This is the Start Here / Never Stop podcast with Dean Susan King of the UNC School of Media and Journalism. 

00:00:18 Dean Susan King: Hello. This is Susan King, the Dean of the School of Media and Journalism, here at UNC-Chapel Hill with our alum, Joyce Fitzpatrick class of ’76, who everyone likes to call the “queen of crisis communication.” Welcome, Joyce.

00:00:32 Joyce Fitzpatrick: Glad to be here, Susan, thank you.

00:00:35 King: We want to start really talking about the public relations field. Because when you were here, it was almost not a field, it was not as important as it is now. It’s the largest area of study for our students. What kind of lured you into this? How did you define this as the world you wanted to enter?

00:00:55 Fitzpatrick: Great question, Susan. When I was a student in a journalism school in the ’70s we only had the news ed sequence and the advertising sequence. And I knew that neither one of those fit me quite perfectly, although I was a news ed major. And so frankly, I didn’t know there was such a thing as public relations. All I knew is that I wanted to tell people’s stories in a different way. So, I feel really good about the fact that I did have that news editorial background, because what that does is help you learn to write every day under all kinds of circumstances, early morning, late night. And I feel that that’s still a fundamental talent or skill that you have to have in public relations. So, I feel good about my background, but certainly now having taught in the school and seeing these amazing young people coming out of the school, I know that our public relations sequence is extremely robust.

00:02:10 King: Give me a sort of sense of the vision that you had then and how you would describe it now because it really wasn’t the field it was in the ’70s that it is now.

00:02:19 Fitzpatrick: Now, I mean, again, I felt that I was discovering a whole new field. Yeah, I really didn’t know that there was a thing called public relations. I went straight to Washington, D.C., after graduating — actually, I first worked for a book publishing company, briefly before I went to Washington and — I thought I wanted to be in the publishing business. Got to Washington, got a job with the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. Now, at that time, as you know, Susan, Washington was a government town, and not much of a private sector. So, lots and lots and lots of associations. So, I got this job as an editor and public relations person for the Association of Governing Boards, which was an organization that trained and helped college and university trustees understand their governance responsibilities. Heaven knows, I didn't know how handy that would come in...

00:03:25 King: *laughs* I was just thinking the same thing.

00:03:27 Fitzpatrick: ...later in my career, when I seemed to have a practice that specialized in higher education crisis. So I got a good schooling, worked for a wonderful guy who was my mentor — became my mentor — his name was Bob Gale, he was one of the first employees in the Peace Corps, was in the Kennedy administration, he was head of Young Democrats for Humphrey  in ’68 — just an amazing guy — And he introduced me to everybody in in Washington, D.C., who was anybody in the field of journalism, public relations and advertising. So I had a really amazing mentor, which meant so much to me and my career. And I've tried to do the same thing for young people coming out of our school.

00:04:12 King: And it really is the bridge between the world of journalism, which has changed now, because it’s — everybody’s in journalism, if you count social media — and organizations and individuals who need someone to help them navigate that, right? 

00:04:25 Fitzpatrick: Exactly. I look at myself as a facilitator or interpreter. I always felt that there was some sort of artificial barrier between the media and organizations that need to tell their stories or companies that need to tell their story. And so, I always saw myself as almost a doubles partner helping get the ball over the net for the journalists, and vice versa, help the corporations and institutions that I represented, tell their story effectively.

00:05:01 King: And then crisis communications really was not a field either in the ’70s?

00:05:07 Fitzpatrick: Hmm... Yeah, go ahead.

00:05:08 King: No, and it’s now a whole specialty. So tell me how that emerged. How did you see it?

00:05:13 Fitzpatrick: Well. After a brief stint with the Association of Governing Boards in Washington, I met a woman named Myra Peabody [Gossens] and she was in the Carter Administration — this is aging me now, Susan, that I’m talking about all of these past presidents — but she was in the Carter administration, and she had come back from a trip around the world. And she was eager to start a new kind of communications firm, and recruited me — at the ripe age of 25 — to start a business in Washington, D.C. Two females starting a business in Washington, D.C. I was 25. And she was 30. It was right before Ronald Reagan was elected. And actually, with his election, as you know, the private sector in in Washington boomed, and we found a niche representing not only nonprofit museums and higher education institutions, but also corporations new to Washington, needing to understand how Washington works. One of our very first clients was Gallaudet University. 

00:06:20 King: Oh, wow! 

00:06:21 Fitzpatrick: Gallaudet University is a school for the deaf and hard of hearing in Washington, D.C. It’s congressionally mandated. And they had been a client of ours for quite some time when they were in the process of a search for a new president. And at that time, the students at Gallaudet had made it very clear that they felt that Gallaudet needed a deaf president — hard of hearing president — not somebody who was not one of them. And so the search was conducted, and we were representing the Board of Trustees, and the university — because they were going for they were under scrutiny by the Reagan administration in terms of budget — and the search turned up a candidate, the leading candidate who was actually ironically from North Carolina, from UNC-G. And she was an amazing woman, but she was not from the deaf community. And so immediately upon the announcement of her choice, as president, the students rioted. Took over the campus. And would not let the administration back into the administrative building — harkening back to the ’60s, Susan — and that all of a sudden was our first crisis client. To add a little bit of color to that. Both my partner and I were in late stages of pregnancy, while we were handling this first crisis. And it was quite a crisis. We had to have the Board of Trustees meet in our offices. They couldn’t get on campus. We tried to help them understand that this was part of a — this was really a civil rights issue. It was not just a, you know, a group of ruffled kids. And long story short, the board finally understood that it was up against something bigger than itself. And the new president resigned and a hearing, I mean, a deaf president was chosen. So we didn’t choose the crisis. The crisis chose us.

00:08:47 King: I covered that story. I remember very well, Joyce. We were — we didn’t know each other at that time. 

00:08:53 Fitzpatrick: We didn’t.

00:08:55 King: Crisis. Not everyone can handle that. There is hardly a crisis in this area in higher education and elsewhere that you haven’t been part of. What is it that helps you navigate the problems and advise the clients? What do you think your strength is?

00:09:12 Fitzpatrick: Well, thank you. Let me say this, when I made the move from Washington, D.C., back to North Carolina, in the early ’90s — for lifestyle reasons — I commuted to Washington for several years. And then thought “That’s crazy,” and opened an office here of our firm: Peabody Fitzpatrick. When I was coming back to North Carolina, it was right after the OJ Simpson trial. And I thought to myself, you know, I’m going to find, I’m going to do a really good job of researching the legal community in North Carolina. And I’m going to try to find four or five evolved attorneys for whom I can provide communications assistance in times of crisis. So I  really set about it as a research project. And I found them and I’m still working with them to this day. So I really felt that I pioneered the whole, the whole relationship between media and the law. After the OJ case, as you know, Susan, people understood that the court of public opinion was as important if not more important than any court of law. And so I started working with several attorneys, both here and in Washington, all over the East Coast, who understood that that was an important part of what they needed to provide to their clients. And so, we would work as a team. I would be hired by both the attorney, so that was covered by the privilege. And then we would work as a team sorting through the client’s needs. Many times, and still to this day, my attorney friends like to say that people are not so worried about going to prison but are really worried about being on the front page of the newspaper. And so we tried to divide up our, our time and our energy so that my attorney friends could focus on practicing law. And I could focus on trying to minimize their risk and the reputational risk in the in the news. So that’s how we started. And I would say that fundamental to what I still do today. I guess the case of my career that I’m sure you would ask me about is the Duke lacrosse case. Seems like ancient history now. But wow, completely took over my life for two years. We were retained — the attorney Wade Smith and I — were retained by one of the boys who was indicted by one of the lacrosse players. And then as the three, ultimately three boys were indicted. I ended up doing the public relations for all of the boys, the players — while each of the players had his own attorney. And that was a that was a moment, when our backs were against the wall. The media had convicted those players of a capital offense, which is great. We did focus groups in Durham, North Carolina. And we knew if this case went to trial, that those players were going to be convicted. We knew also that something was up. That something was not, was not the things did not add up. Of course, at the beginning, we did not, we had no idea that there was criminal activity on behalf of the district attorney in Durham. We finally figured that out. We also had no idea that when we asked for DNA, we asked for DNA tests. And we were told there was there was no DNA present. Hmmm. Interesting. No DNA present. How could they, how could this woman have been raped by three or four men and have no DNA evidence? What we found out later was that by asking the right questions, interesting story there, if I may, if I may, Susan, they... We got a call from a woman in California, who had worked on the Kobe Bryant case. Who told our attorneys exactly what to ask for from the company doing the DNA testing. And what it revealed was that there was DNA, there was plenty of DNA and then present on and in her body, but not the DNA of the lacrosse players. And of course, that was the break in the case. The role I played in that, because we knew we were so against — our backs were so much against the wall — is that we went to 60 Minutes, knowing that 60 Minutes likes the counterintuitive story where the good guys are the bad guys and bad guys are the good guys. And convinced them to cover the lacrosse case. They did four hour-long pieces that won tons and tons of Peabodies. And again, really turned the case around. But it took two years and it took the intervention of our North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who’s now our governor, to see that this was a case of completely — a complete fantasy. There was no rape, in this case. And we had Time magazine, Newsweek saying ”Sex, lies and lacrosse.” I mean, it was a phenomenal uphill battle for us. But we are still in touch with the players and their parents to this day. And the players have moved on. The parents I don’t think will ever move on. And Duke University — there’s a lot I could say there — Duke University I don’t think really ever dealt with the case as it should have. If you remember, they fired the lacrosse coach, ended the lacrosse season. Faculty was demanding all kinds of changes to policies at Duke around athletic teams. And you know, unfortunately, as we can see from current issues in higher education today, not many lessons learned.

00:15:29 King: But I’ll tell you something, as you’re telling that story with great attention to detail and the digging. Those news ed classes you took — back to that point of journalism — you’re really digging to get to the next part of the story. So the journalist training is really part of what makes a great public relations professional.

00:15:49 Fitzpatrick: Absolutely. And I — you know, I feel very fond of and nostalgic for the old days, Susan, where news reporters were absolutely envied and championed and celebrated. But I feel that today, even more so, I have the responsibility of making sure that as we tell our clients stories, we are being fair, accurate, and trustworthy ourselves.

00:16:25 King: You’ve been such a great friend and important leader here at the MJ-school. What makes you give back — you’re a chair of our board of advisers here, I don’t think there’s anything I’ve ever asked you to do that you haven’t said yes to — what makes you give back to us?

00:16:37 Fitzpatrick: Gosh, you know, my parents were both schoolteachers, and very much valued public education. And when I was accepted to the University of North Carolina and to the journalism school, I felt — at the very beginning — a tremendous responsibility to give back to you still today. If you look at the tuition at Chapel Hill, only one of our three children went to Chapel Hill, but I couldn’t believe it. When I got the tuition bills. I said, I called the bursor and I said “I believe there’s a mistake. I don’t believe you’ve charged me enough.” She said, “Oh, yes. Yes, yes, we have.” ”Well, I’ll take two.”

00:17:27 King: *laughs*

00:17:28 Fitzpatrick: So we — I felt since I graduated, Susan, that I could never give back to the university, what it’s given to me.

00:17:37 King: And we’re glad that you’re in our Hall of Fame. Since 2000. And you’ve helped to move that up, you saw a vision in our Halls of Fame for North Carolina. Just say a word about that. You and Meryl Rose have moved it up. So...

00:17:48 Fitzpatrick: My good buddy Meryl Rose. Our careers have tracked through the years — Washington and all over the place — and she’s one of my best friends. We decided, when you were in your just first couple years as Dean. And we value your leadership so much, Susan. That we really needed. I’ve always felt that the journalism school now that it has embraced public relations and all kinds of media. We needed to demonstrate to the world: what we teach. And what we teach in public relations is absolutely: producing events, and celebrations that model the class and the character, and the excellence that the school provides. And we felt that through the whole Hall of Fame dinner that we had been having annually for many, many years, that we really needed to make that event more visible, more fun. And because we have so many people who celebrate who have come through either our school or have had some connections North Carolina. So Meryl and I wanted to show the school and to show the university and to show the State of North Carolina what we have here, the treasure that we have. And we hope — we’re trying to do that Susan. And I hope you’ll agree.

00:19:18 King: Oh, totally agree. Plus, you’re helping us to raise some money, which I’m very grateful for. I guess this conversation shows why you became a distinguished young alumna at UNC in ’95. And why we can see you’re a Hall of Famer for sure. But you’re also one of the Triangle’s most powerful women by the Business Journal. So, keep it up!  Thank you for giving us your time and for being always not only a great advocate, but a great storyteller. 

00:19:47 Fitzpatrick: Thank you, Susan.

 

July 16, 2019

Jacqueline Charles ’94 is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and Emmy Award-winning Caribbean Correspondent at The Miami Herald, a McClatchy-owned paper which circulates in greater Miami and is read throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Click here to read more

This is the Start Here / Never Stop podcast with Dean Susan King of the UNC School of Media and Journalism.

00:00:18 Dean Susan King: This is Susan King, the Dean of the School of Media and Journalism here at Chapel Hill. And with me, one of our great alums, Jacqueline Charles, class of 94, and welcome. 

00:00:30 Jacqueline Charles: Thank you for having me. 

00:00:32 King: I want to start on really a high note for this year, and then trace some of your movement to the top, but I want to stop at the top —or start at the top, I should say — because you had such an incredible year. Here it is the year 2018, Maria [Moors] Cabot prize, Columbia Journalism School, you take it, that was a big win.

00:00:55 Charles: It definitely was a big one, because I actually had applied a couple of times in the past and at one point became discouraged. Can you imagine be being on the front line of the biggest disaster in this hemisphere, which was the 2010, Haiti earthquake, and doing so many different stories about that huge disaster. And so I applied, I didn't get it. Applied a second time — and both times there were people that I knew who were judges — and finally, a friend of mine, actually a colleague, [NeNe?], who also was the winner. She said “you what, you should apply. So I said, Okay, I'll do it reluctantly. And I did it. And I got it. And interesting enough, when I went up there to receive the award, and I spoke to some of the judges. And I learned from someone — well, the reason why you didn't get in the past is because they thought you were too young. *laughs*

00:01:52 King: Well, I would say it a different way, you had covered some of the emergencies in Haiti. But now you really cover the story —the context, the history, culture. You are America's expert on this amazing country.

00:02:06 Charles: What exactly I mean, what I wanted to do after the earthquake, I remember my editor at the time saying, “okay, what next.” And when he said, but then he was talking about what other beat that I wanted to cover, he felt like maybe I had to sort of reached the end of that Haiti story. But I knew that the disaster was just one thing. But there's so many different stories to cover with this country — and that's why I enjoy covering this beat. Some days, I say, I have the best job in America, because I get to do it all: I get to be a feature writer, I get to be a health writer, I get to be a crime writer, I get to be a political writer. The stories are so diverse, and they're just not always about the disaster, or the political crisis at the moment, which I am currently dealing with. And so I think as a journalist, I mean, you're always looking, you know, tell the story that hasn't been told before, or to tell it in a new way. But you're also looking to be challenged, and you're always looking for diversity, variety — does not necessarily mean that you want to switch jobs — sometimes you like the job, you just need a break! *laughs* From the same ol’ same ol’ and oftentimes Haiti allows me to do that. I mean, the country is fascinating. And I just want readers you know, whether their readers in the U.S. or my readers in Haiti to really understand that this country isn't about the prices of the moment. But there's so many other rich stories to be told — interesting stories to be told.

00:03:38 King: So let's go to the beginning. You were 14 when you landed a job at your Miami newspaper, as an intern, but 14! You've been driven your whole life to tell stories.

00:03:51 Charles: I know that's so interesting, because journalism was not my first choice that you know, I am partly Haitian and like a lot of Haitian kids, your parents tell you you're going to go off to college, you're going to become a doctor or an engineer, but definitely somewhere in the sciences. But yes, I was 14, I was in a gifted program at Booker T.  Washington, which is an inner-city school, in Miami, junior high. And my teacher invited the executive editor of the Miami Herald and his wife to come talk to us. And so I started asking questions, he assumed that I was interested in journalism. I'm just nosy I was asking these different questions. And then he mentioned that there was a internship program that the Miami Herald had but you had to be 16. And I remember thinking, yes, good. I'm only 14 so I don't qualify. But John Bratcher who went on to be the editor at the Wall Street Journal, He actually called back that day, told my boss —my teacher — that they would have interviews, they were actually hiring a new round of interns. And she drove me down for my first ever job interview, and apparently, I made an impression because the next thing I know, they were offering me an internship at the Miami Herald while I was 14 years old.

00:05:07 King: And so that you really did find your passion, then? Was it been a love affair at different moments? Would you say? Did you know then? You were made for this world?

00:05:18 Charles: No, I knew then when I was in Carolina. But I have to tell you, I've always been interested in writing. I've always been interested in being a storyteller. I enjoy telling stories. — but honestly, it really wasn't until I was at Chapel Hill — and going through a class having a tough time and Chuck stone, the late Chuck Stone, I asked him to look at some of my  writings, my class assignments. And I valued his opinion, you know, I hadn't even taken a class with Chuck. But he was so revered. And I really wanted to hear what he had to say. And I remember it just as this it happened yesterday, he was in Lenoir Hall. He had a tray in his hand that was coming in and I said “Professor Stone, did you get a chance to look at the papers I gave you?” And he had them in the other hand, and he says, “Jacquie, I have them— I looked through them, Jacquie, you can write.”

00:06:18 King: *laughs*

00:06:19 Charles: It's amazing what three words, you know, can do for you. The impact that they could have, but “you can write.” I mean, hearing that from Professor Stone. It energized me. It gave me a certain kind of confidence. That really I was just ready to like, take this on. And I think you know what, forget about trying to be pre-med in journalism. I'm here, I'm at Chapel Hill. I enjoy telling stories. I've got an internship waiting for me this summer, a job when I graduate — It's time to buckle down and get serious about it — And that's really for me was the turning point, that moment when I really decided to just really embrace journalism 100 percent.  

00:07:01 King: And there was another professor, I've heard you talk about Harry Amana, who also pushed you to then be an intrepid reporter.

00:07:11 Charles: Exactly. Professor Amana. You know, he also challenged us and one of the stories I remember from him was coming back from one of my summer internships and him asking how did it go. And I was explaining to him an assignment that I had been given, which was to go knock on the door of a family that just suffered a huge tragedy, the son had just shot the father on the sidewalk outside of the house. And the father was a very well-known or respected pastor in this black community down in South Miami Dade County. And I was explaining to him how I just couldn't do it. I felt like I was infringing on people's privacy. And he challenged me, he says, “what do you mean, you couldn't do it?” You were a reporter, this is the assignment, you needed to go knock on that door, you don't know what would have met you on the other end, maybe they would not have answered, maybe they would have answered invited to in. Maybe they wanted to tell their story. Maybe they would have shut the door in your face. But you never know until you did it. So after that conversation, I have to tell you I’ve never left any door unknocked —no matter how difficult I think the assignment may be. Whatever I may personally think about having to go to a funeral or knock on someone's door. I do it because I have been amazed — time and time and again by people in moments of hardship and tragedy. It is amazing how sometimes people want they want to tell their story. They want somebody to hear their side of things. And so for that I've always been grateful to Professor Amana. And I also told this story during, you know, my graduation speech, my commencement speech, which was his, you know, never let them see you cry. You know, this is just about, you know, having suffered my first shock in journalism, I mean, in terms of the changes and believing that I was going to be promoted, and it didn't happen. And I reached out to him, and in, you know, and never let them see you cry, just about always having confidence in yourself and your ability and understanding the things that happen to you in this business — it's not always about you — whether they're good or bad. It's not always about you, people, you know, it's like chess pieces on a board that has to get moved and [FT?] full time equivalents and employees, you know, their needs, that are needed elsewhere as and other places, but you always have to remain confident in your ability. And then your love of this profession — and you just have to soldier on.

00:09:44 King: I want to ask you, you, of course for our graduation speaker, this 2019. And it was so well received. And I heard students say, “how does she deal with the physical danger?” So you've talked about pushing yourself because Harry Amana was there telling you to knock on the doors, but you've been in situations that can be scary. You've been there when things are violent — when it's just chaos after the earthquake, such — how did you prepare yourself to take on situations which you can't control, and which can be physically demanding?

00:10:13 Charles: I think first and foremost, you have to listen to yourself, you have to trust yourself, right? You have to listen to your instincts. And I am forever grateful for God for always guiding me — whenever I take on one of these trips — because from the moment you get on the plane till you arrive back, you don't know, you know what can happen. I have to tell you in a place like Haiti, for instance, I have a very good driver and I listened to him I don't, I don't argue I don't take unnecessary risks — I used to but I no longer do that — because a dead journalist is not a good journalist, you can't deliver the story. So you really have to ask yourself, you know, is this worth it? What may be lurking around the, you know, around the corner. Recently, I was in Jamaica, and I was in Jamaica on my own, I do not have my trusted Haitian driver with me. And Jamaica is a country that's also you know, somewhat volatile in some areas, you know, that it has an issue with violence. And so you have to just be smart. You know, you can't go you know, sort of flashing or thinking because you're a journalist, you're some superwoman of some superman. Sometimes you have to just try to be discreet. You know, take not trying to take shortcuts. I see that sometimes with you know, young journalists, they try to, you know, take a shortcut — and say, “I'll do this, I'll take this goal,” tab, here and there. No, and you always have to let people know you know, where you are, where you're going to go, who you're going to meet with, and again, listening to your gut, if your gut tells you that — that's not a good idea, you shouldn't do it, you shouldn't do it.

00:11:56 King: One of the things that's intriguing to me is that you've had your whole career since that internship when you were 14 at the Miami Herald. So you've had some stability, one institution, but the business has completely changed and your work has changed. You are a multimedia journalist now.

00:12:13 Charles: Indeed, I am. I mean, the work definitely has changed. I mean when I was at Carolina, I was a print journalist. That was my nature, I really wasn't interested in photography or radio. But today, for instance, I just did a radio interview. I've done video stories. I was in Jamaica two weeks ago, and I took photos — I film video because I said this is a story might be great. But to my son asked me for a photo, and they're going to ask me for a video to do it. I mean, that's the reality of the business. But I have to tell you, I do enjoy making videos, but I enjoy challenging myself to tell the story in a different format. Because the story sometimes is so — it's either so fascinating, or so long, if you can kill it all in front. So you have to find other avenues to do it. And I think that that would be my message to young people today is that you have to be open, you know, you can’t — I have a saying well like to say to folks like that to get out of your own way. You know, you just can't be so rigid. This is a business that is evolving. And one of the editors here said recently “you have to be prepared to fail and fail fast.” You know, that didn't work. Now, what's the next thing? So? Yes, it is. It's a little scary at times, it's a little uncertain. But the reality is, is that people need journalists they need what we do. They need our training, our skill sets, they need that our ability to observe — to basically, you know, the BS meter to figure out what people are not telling you the truth. All of those things are needed because people need information in order to make decisions about their lives.

00:14:02 King: You mentioned Booker T. Washington Middle School, that was a pretty important place for you. But I want to take the quote that I read that you said once that a teacher told you really “don't ever let your zip code define you.” What's that mean? How should we read that?

00:14:20 Charles: I am a product of Miami-Dade County, inner city schools. You know, I'm an immigrant, but I also attended inner city schools in Miami-Dade County. And my teachers have always told us don't allow your zip code the fact that you may live or grow up in a predominantly poor community or you come to you attend a school that doesn't have a lot of resources. You know, truly the sky is the limit. If you want to go to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, you can go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — even if you've never seen Chapel Hill in your life. And you were from a neighborhood called Overtown. It's a pretty prominently black, you know, community in Miami-Dade County. This is what I tell students is that, you know, we don't as children, we don't choose where we live, right. We don't choose the the circumstances that bring our parents to a new country, or take them to a certain neighborhood and keep them there for whatever reason. But once you graduate from high school, the world really is an oyster, it is yours — it is to do what you want to do to go where you want to go. And you have to believe beyond that difficult.

00:15:38 King: And what did lure you to UNC? What became the beacon for you here?

00:15:44 Charles: You know, even though I told you that I fully embraced journalism 100% my you know, during my tenure at Carolina, the reality is, is that it was there was in my blood. So I'm interning at the you know — at the Miami Herald everybody's giving me pressure to apply for what was then the Knight-Ridder [Minority] scholarship and it was a scholarship in Knight-Ridder. [The predecessor to McClatchy?] will not depress us when they were two which owned the Miami Herald at the time and about 28 other newspapers. They have a scholarship for high school students are interested in journalism — So I won that scholarship. I became the second Knight Ridder scholar for the Miami Herald. So I knew that I wanted to go to school with a very good journalism program. And one of my mentors at the Miami Herald, [Tina Fisher?], also a student of Harry Amana. She basically you know, she was all Carolina, she was like Carolina blue when she was always talking about Chapel Hill. And so I started thinking about it, and I had all these options. But you know, one point I thought about Northwestern, I wanted to go to Georgetown, I was fully enrolled at the UF [University of Florida]. I had a scholarship to University of Miami, but I think you know what, Chapel Hill has a very good reputation for journalism. And I'm going to go to Carolina and plus on top of the fact it was 14 hours from Miami. —*laughs*— Break with my immigrant mother, but then no, but it really was the reputation. And the passion that I saw, like Carolina graduates, me know, when I got to Caroline, I fully understood that. Here's somebody that had been out of college, over five years, 10 years, and they were still passionate about Chapel Hill — and they were still drawn to it. And they were still trying on the lessons learned. And that actually defined to me today. I still draw on those lessons, whether it was you know, from [Professor Baldwin?] or, you know, [area monarch?]. I still look to those years at Carolina when I get myself in a certain line. So hopefully my journalism professor, that was the advice things would have given. I said, you know, a million times, but it truly was the best decision that I've made. And it truly was four best years of my life.

00:18:11 King: Well, we can't say anything more than that. I know. I'm very glad that you picked Chapel Hill. We are thrilled to have you as our grad. It was a wonderful graduation ceremony this year — 2019. And we're expecting more prizes, no pressure, more big stories. Thanks very much for joining us today Jacquie. Great conversation.

00:18:29 Charles: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

 

June 24, 2019

Corrie MacLaggan '02 is the managing editor of The Texas Tribune, located in Austin, Texas. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

June 4, 2019

Bill Morton '62 is chair emeritus of Jack Morton Worldwide, a leading experiential marketing agency founded by his father, Jack Morton, in 1939. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

April 4, 2019

Ilana Finley '00 is currently the vice president of global communications and social impact at Converse in Boston. She previously served as the senior director of communications for Nike, Inc. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

March 27, 2019

Anu Anand '95 is the host of Marketplace Morning Report from the BBC World Service, a global business program produced jointly by Marketplace and the BBC. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

March 21, 2019

Allen Bosworth '81 is currently the president at EP+Co, an award-winning integrated marketing firm residing in New York and South Carolina. He has worked for the last 30 years front-lining the business side of the firm. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

March 5, 2019

Caitlin Owens '14 is a reporter for Axios — an online news publication based in Arlington County, Virginia — where she covers health care and other policy areas on Capitol Hill.  Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Feb. 27, 2019

Stefan Prelog '96 (M.A.) is currently a senior vice president at Rubenstein in New York City, where he develops communications and brand building programs for leading alternative investment managers, private equity firms, real estate investment trusts, investment banks and public companies using strategic public relations and digital media solutions.  Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Feb. 20, 2019

Leah Ashburn '92 is a second-generation family owner of Highland Brewing Company and serves as its CEO and president.  Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Feb. 13, 2019

Ashlan Cousteau '02 is the co-star of the Travel Channel's Caribbean Pirate Treasure, a former Entertainment Tonight correspondent and a fill-in anchor for E! News.  Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Feb. 5, 2019

Grace Raynor '15 is a Clemson beat reporter for The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, and two-time recipient of the South Carolina Sportswriter of the Year.  Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Dec. 17, 2018

This special edition Start Here / Never Stop Podcast presents a panel discussion around an important topic within the UNC School of Media and Journalism — how to tell the stories of diverse cultures and communities with sensitivity and respect.  Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Nov. 8, 2018

David Tinson '96 is senior vice president of marketing communications at Electronic Arts, a global leader in digital interactive entertainment with critically acclaimed brands such as The Sims, Madden NFL, EA SPORTS FIFA, Battlefield, Need for Speed and Plants vs. Zombies. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Oct. 31, 2018

Delia D'Ambra '14 is a general assignment and investigative reporter for NBC2 WBBH news in Fort Myers, Florida, and the creator of the Counter Clock Podcast. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Oct. 3, 2018

Patrick Winn '03 is the Asia correspondent at Public Radio International, where he focuses on the process of redefining the portrayal of criminals in Southeast Asia. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Sept. 18, 2018

Haleh Moddasser '85 is the lead adviser of Stearns Financial Group in Chapel Hill, providing full service investment management and financial planning services to the Triangle. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

July 23, 2018

Chris Brown ’91 and C.L. Brown '94 are alumni brothers who have made their marks on the media landscape in a variety of ways. Chris has written and produced sports programming for national Christian and secular media portals alike. C.L. is a senior writer for The Fieldhouse, the college basketball branch of The Athletic — a subscription-based website featuring in-depth sports coverage. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

June 27, 2018

Kit Hoover '92 is a television personality, sportscaster, broadcast journalist and the current co-host of Access Hollywood Live. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

May 29, 2018

Andrew Schorr '71 is a medical journalist and the founder of Patient Power, a resource hub that supports and connects cancer patients, caregivers, medical centers and other advocacy organizations. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

May 24, 2018

Robyn Tomlin '96 executive editor of The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, and the first regional editor for the Carolinas for The McClatchy Company. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

May 15, 2018

Lindsay Shookus '02 has worked as producer at Saturday Night Live since 2002 and has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

April 30, 2018

Reema Khrais '12 is a reporter at the national public radio show, Marketplace. Click here to read more

This is the Start Here / Never Stop Podcast with Dean Susan King of the UNC School of Media and Journalism.

00:13 Dean Susan King: Hello. This is Susan King, the dean of the UNC School of Media and Journalism at Chapel Hill. I am very excited to have with us an alum from the class of 2012: Reema Khrais. How are you and welcome!

00:25 Reema Khrais: I am doing good. Thanks so much for having me.

00:26 King: It's such a pleasure to have you join us because you were in my first graduating class, so you were very important to me. And what a ride you've had from UNC to the prestigious Kroc Fellowship in NPR to the Fletcher Fellowship covering Education Policy at WUNC Radio here to Marketplace in six short years. Wow.

0:00:49.7 Khrais: Yeah, it's been great. It's been wonderful. I couldn't have imagined and I can't believe it's been six years since I've graduated. But thinking back on it, I didn't imagined being here at this point. But, I mean, it made sense. I think one thing led to the other. Even when I was at UNC — it's funny that you mentioned that we were there at the same time — because I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do exactly, and I felt so grateful [for] Professor Adam Hochberg who was there, I mean, he's still there.

0:01:18.4 King: Absolutely.

0:01:20.6 Khrais: Yeah. I honestly credit so much of my career to him just because he was the former correspondent, and we were these timid 19/20 year-old, but he didn't care. He treated us as if we were professionals working at NPR, and that went down to the way he edited, and the way he interacted with us. He had really strict standards starting from there. When I eventually moved on to NPR right after I graduated, I already had a lot of skills on how to write a radio script. I knew how to voice the radio script in a very professional way and — which comparing to the other interns and fellows there — they did not have that necessary kind of training. So, I remember feeling very lucky for that. And at Carolina, I did spend most of my time in general at the journalism school and at Carolina Connection class, hosting and putting together radio script and taking it incredibly seriously. I remember I'd be there like every Friday night before the show airs on Saturday with all my friends and classmates who I'm still in contact with today, and we would go on air the next day. And it just felt like everything in that moment — it really set me up from where I am today.

0:02:40.4 King: Well, I remember you as really a young woman with ambition because part of your Carolina Connection class was to go to Egypt — where you had some roots — and cover the Arab Spring.

0:02:50.4 Khrais: Yeah, yeah. That was a great opportunity because, at that point, I was in training at The Story with Dick Gordon, which unfortunately is not on the air anymore. It was a national radio program based out of Chapel Hill. I was interning there, and I was also interning at CNN the other half of the summer. But then I really wanted to go to Egypt. And I didn't have the funds to go there, and I remember The Story with Dick Gordon didn't have the money either. And so, I actually got a grant through the UNC journalism school. And that was the reason I was able to even go to Egypt and I was there for a month and a half or so and went on the ground and talked to taxi cab drivers and talked to protestors in Tahrir square. That was my first international reporting trip, and I remember feeling really lucky I was able to do that and that The Story and the journalism school gave me that opportunity.

0:03:54.6 King: And I'm so glad we had the funding because it's part of what we believe in; it's really immersing our students in the real kind of experiences of work that they're going to have. Not just theoretical idea that did make a difference turn in to be on the ground to really covering a story.

0:04:11.1 Khrais: Oh yeah, for sure, yeah. And then following that, I guess after I graduated, as you mentioned, I went on into the NPR Kroc fellowship which, funny, I remember that summer, I applied to so many internships and so many opportunities, and I think the fellowship was the one thing I wanted and the one thing I didn't think I was going to get, and then I end up getting it, which is funny how that works out. But then I was in D.C. for another year or so and that was when I met another fellow MJ-school grad and Kroc Fellow, Parth Shah '15. For my fellowship, I had to rotate around NPR for a year. You do like three months of national reporting right after I graduated, I was maybe 21 or even 20 at that point, and my first assignment was a national piece for NPR which felt so intimidating at that time. But again, like I said, I felt like I had the tools and the fundamentals to be able to do that.

0:05:14.2 King: And you've already said that, that was a difference from some of the other Kroc fellows because you got such a good experience learning under Prof. Adam Hochberg. But what was that you would say helped us prepare you. Was the fact that the faculty took you seriously? Was there a fact that there was these immersive experiences? Was the fact that you had the close connection of the people on this radio program that was a weekly experience?

0:05:37.7 Reema Khrais: I mean, yeah, it was all of it. I literally can't emphasize enough how crucial Adam was or is really to my career trajectory. And I mean, I love Adam, but you know, he was also harsh. He told it how it was. If it's something that needed work, he would tell us it needed work; when something was great, he would give us affirmation. He really took his job seriously. For Adam, it was never really the idea that something is good enough — it could always be better, or you could always edit that and make that audio equality just a little bit stronger or make the writing a little bit sharper. He would sit down with you and walk you through it. And so, like I said, even though at the fellowship I remember there were other Kroc fellows who were like, "Oh, you write in this kind of way? I didn't realized that you should do it that kind of way." Essentially, in Adam, it was like we had an NPR editor working over us. And I remember being in the journalism school and I was such close friend with a couple people who are still in the public radio world right now. And now just having that network or that support network even outside of college years later, I mean, I was just texting one of my good friends who I used to host Carolina Connection with. And I was telling him about my latest stories and projects that I'm working on and went to his wedding a few months ago. I am also talking with another person who is working over at StoryCorps right now, and we talked about the project she's working on. So being able to have that network has helped me in college but also beyond.

0:07:30.7 King: But I want to ask you one thing about your experience here that's not a radio experience. You are Muslim-American, Palestinian-American and you know on campus as we're talking a lot, this year particularly, about race and diversity issues, we were all chagrined and disturbed by the way the school year opened with the events in Charlottesville and of course there's a debate here on campus around Silent Sam. What was it like to be a minority? Did you feel supported yourself? How did you deal with being the ‘other’ on campus?

0:08:04.4 Khrais: Yeah, it's so funny you say that. When I was a first year, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I joined the Muslim Students Association. I joined other sort of minority groups and made a lot of close friends that way and just observed what they are doing in terms of their career path or whatever they wanted to do. And so many of them were wanting to go to the med school or wanting to become lawyers. And so, like them, I was like, “Okay, I'll become a doctor, or I'll become a lawyer.” That is what you do, that is a stable career trajectory. And I remember — just to talk a little bit about how much representation matters. I was part of those groups and I remember there's this one student in particular who I would always see around campus lugging around like all this huge camera equipment. And she's Egyptian-American, she's also Muslim, and I remember being so confused and taken aback by the fact that she had decided to go into the journalism school, because I remember, at that point, the idea of pursuing journalism just seemed so wild to me. And not necessarily because I was taught to believe that, but it was more of just I haven't seen enough people who were doing that to make it seem like a feasible career path. And it's funny, I remember going up to her one day, and she was a junior, and I was a first- year and I was like, "can I just shadow you for a day?" And she said, "Sure, I'm actually at this radio class, I'm going to go talk to this scientist on campus and you can just come in and shadow me". And I did that one day after class, and I remember thinking it to be the coolest thing ever because it melded in so many ways all the things that I like, — public speaking and writing — and there was an element of performance to it and it's very artistic. And obviously the journalism aspect to it. And still to this day, she is a close friend of mine, and I still tell her today that I definitely thought to pursue journalism because of her. And I know I'm not completely answering your questions about what it was like to be a minority on campus, but I think it was part of the experience. You become part of this group and you know in many ways I had a good support system, I had people like her to be able to show me what is possible. And I even remember when I signed up for the journalism school, I think at that point you had to choose which path you wanted to go down. I admired her so much in what she was doing, and I was like, "hey, what is the path that you chose again, you did broadcast, right?" and she was like, "Yeah, yeah, TV and radio?" And I was like, "OK, sure." Then I signed up for that blindly. [laughter]

0:11:16.4 King: But how fantastic that it was a positive experience you know. And it makes that point that representation does make a difference so that people who hear you and know you too are not "Susan King", you know you've got a name that has some resonance that is compelling for millions who listen to Marketplace.

0:11:37.8 Khrais: Aww. Yeah. I do think, yeah, representation matters a lot. And that was part of the reason why I wanted to be able to go to journalism, too. I think I do, I mean, I think everyone can provide a different perspective. They tell me their experiences and their background, and I felt like, I could do that. Here at Marketplace, I've been spending a large time reporting on immigration issues and as a daughter of immigrants, I think I'm able to bring some nuance and understanding to the stories. And also, it's a really sensitive topic, right? And people increasingly are uncomfortable talking, especially on the radio, or putting themselves out there, so being able to relate to them in that way and sort of disarm them helps a lot. And I think it's so crucial to be able to have those kind of voices in the newsroom.

0:12:30.4 King: And also, when you were here as the Fletcher Fellow, we had such a tragedy right off campus with three of our students being murdered. And that ended up bringing you into covering that story because it was part of your community and people you know.

0:12:48.4 Khrais: Yeah. That was really tragic.

0:12:50.4 King: And how’d you cover it as someone who was also part of the community grieving?

0:12:55.3 Khrais: Yeah. Yeah, it was really difficult. You know, it’s funny, I even remember the night before or the night off actually we found out about the three Muslim-American students murdered in Chapel Hill. I remember my friend call me that night when she found out because, like you said, they were part of the community. I didn’t know them that well, but I did know of them. And I remember she told me, I remember she was like “Reema, you have to cover this.” And I remember the next day, I had to be at the legislature, and I know it sounds awful that I wondered, “I agree that we need to cover this.” And at that point, details were still coming out, but I remember thinking “will WUNC want to cover this? Will this get attention? Which is sad that I even had that thought. Then when I woke up the next morning and I got a call from NPR national, and they were like, this is a national story. At the point, it was becoming an international story, and I was on that story the next day, and I basically had to turnaround a quick story for NPR across the country. And yeah, I just remember that day specifically was just so difficult talking and processing this with all of my friends. And I remember I had a moment before I went off and did the interviews, and I had to sit in the studio and had to collect myself slowly and just sit there in silence. And then I went out, and I had to report it like you report any other story and sort of remove your emotions in that moment, but also you know, similar to what I was saying earlier because I am part of the community, I think there was an element of trust and trust that I would be able to represent them fairly and to represent the stories fairly and to honor their memory. Yeah, it was a difficult time for everyone.

0:15:00.2 King: Absolutely. But it’s also a moment when you know that you’ve been called to this — this moment and you have to live up to the moment of the profession and the people you love. So, where do you go from here? Do you have a sort of sense of your next ten years?

0:15:18.2 Khrais: Wow, big question. I love radio. I love it a lot, and I think six years ago, I would’ve said that I wanted in this position and now I feel really grateful for that and that I am here reporting for national public radio program. You know, still just getting better and learning, trying to do my job better than the day before. But I love radio, I think I could see myself doing it for another five years. With the boom in podcast — I mean we’re doing a podcast right now — that’s also an interest of mine, being able or work on a podcast one day. So yeah, I see myself staying in radio. If I do leave, I’ll probably go to the more digital side, but I think you know, as you know more than anyone, all this is molding. So who knows which job will be out there. But definitely I’ll be going to stay in journalism. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

0:16:20.4 King: And journalism is worth your best efforts in my estimation. Of course, I am prejudiced, and journalism is an important profession. And I will be remiss for not saying that you won two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for the coverage of that tragedy here in Chapel Hill. And that’s also an important note that was recognized for the quality of the work under you. And we’re very proud of where you are. I’m very proud that our students can reach this. Look forward to talking to you maybe in six more years to find where you are. But thanks for being with us, Reema.

0:16:53.3 Khrais: Thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate it.

 

April 6, 2018

Lisa Arney '03 (M.A.) is a senior communications manager at Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts. Click here to read more

This is the Start Here Never Stop podcast with Dean Susan King of the UNC School of Media and Journalism.

00:00:14 Dean Susan King: Hello, this is Susan King, the Dean of the School of Media and Journalism here at UNC-Chapel Hill. And very glad to welcome Lisa Ramsey Arney to our podcast this week. Welcome.

00:00:24 Lisa Arney: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

00:00:27 King: We're excited to have you and rather than start right off at, you know, your fabulous job right now at the iconic Walt Disney World, and it's any word with Disney, any job with Disney, and it is fantastic. I really wanted to go back to your time here at school. You graduated in 2003 as one of our prestigious Park Fellows. Congratulations on that.

00:00:48 Arney: Thank you. It's a great program.

00:00:50 King: And you've got a master's degree in communication, but with an emphasis on broadcast. And it was at that time when we started to know that our whole media world was changing. So what drew you to the idea of a master's degree?

00:01:03 Arney: So it's a great question. So I actually went to undergrad at the University of Georgia with a broadcast news degree. And I wanted to be the next John Stossel. I really loved the reporting that was done back in the '90s – '80s and '90s – that was more consumer-type reporting. That program has changed quite a bit. They don't do as much of the consumer stuff anymore. But that's what I wanted to do. And so I worked in local TV news markets for about four or five years, and covered, you know, everything from city council meetings to, you know, crime, and just, you know, trying to make the news of the world relevant to the local audience. But it wasn't really my cup of tea. I mean, the thing about being in local TV news is that you're only as good as your last newscast. So you couldn't really work toward any big projects until you got to be a field producer or in a network job. And for me, that road was long. So I wanted to kind of bridge out of journalism and try to make that jump into public relations. So I ended up applying for graduate school because I only knew how to write for a teleprompter. So I really needed to get some foundational training and writing – writing AP style, writing press releases, communications plans and everything like that. So I was so fortunate to be accepted into the program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and so packed up and moved up there. And it was a great blend because at the time I was actually – part of the Park program is that you work as a graduate assistant. And so I helped out with Carolina Week and helped the kids there kind of understand what it's like working in the real TV markets and what they would be expecting when they graduated. So it was a great bridge, and the school was wonderful and being able to kind of help me move from, you know, traditional media to being more on influencing and shaping the stories that are coming out of the media.

00:03:00 King: That's such a good description. And so I always call that kind of a move that you had a pivot point. You knew you wanted to move on to something else. So then education – and really at a post-grad level – gives you a strategic and visionary kind of position on yourself and the world, doesn't it?

00:03:17 Arney: Definitely. Yeah, and I think I know some students choose to go straight from undergraduate into graduate programs. For me, it was so important that I had those several years working as a TV news journalist, because I was able to see, first of all, just what that job was like and determined that that wasn't going to bring me the joy that I needed out of a professional job. But it also was so important in helping me with my public relations studies, and then ultimately, every job I've had since, you know. So it was really good to have that real world experience, then go back to grad school and kind of fill in the gap.

00:03:56 King: And did you understand at that time that the business was about to completely change? Newspapers were starting to feel the advertising change and television still was a little bit on the high. But did you have a sense that it was all about to really be revolutionized?

00:04:11 Arney: I don't know. Gosh, I don't know if anybody really could have ever imagined that our news would be delivered in so many different forms as it is today. So I definitely didn't call that one. But I did see how our online presence was changing at the TV station. So this would have been 2000-2001 when I left there before I came up to North Carolina. And yeah, we started to have to turn news for our website. And it was kind of like, "Well, we've got a newscast at 6 o'clock. Well, we'll have it ready then." And then it was, "No, no, like, we need to get that story out before the 6 o'clock news. And we need to have you write this." So it was starting to change, and people were getting jobs as web producers. That was a brand new function that wasn't around when I was in school, undergrad. So yeah, it was hinting on it, and then I got out of that field, you know, went into school and started to kind of get my foundational learning on PR. But yeah, it was just on the cusp when I was leaving TV.

00:05:11 King: And so talk a little bit about when you left here. How would a graduate degree help you get into – you went to SAS, as I understand it, pretty much right away, which is another iconic brand, at least in the Research Triangle Area.

00:05:25 Arney: Yeah, absolutely. OK, so the story on this is that when – you know my husband – but at the time, my boyfriend at the time and I relocated from Jacksonville, Florida, up to the Chapel Hill area. We actually decided to live in the town of Cary, because we thought it would be closer to where he would get a job. We thought, "Oh, you know, he'll probably get a job in Raleigh. So let's live in Cary, and I'll just commute to Chapel Hill for school." And ironically, he ended up getting a job in Durham, so it didn't help us at all, but, you know, best laid plans. And so I had my Fridays off the way that my grad school schedule was. I had my classes Monday through Thursday. And I was used to working five days a week. So I was thinking I need to find something for my Fridays. I can't just have Fridays off. And I learned about this company, SAS, that was in the same town that I was living. So it was basically saving me a commute day. That was really my main reason to go SAS. I didn't know anything about SAS.

00:06:20 King: Lucky, aren't you?

00:06:23 Arney: Right? And there was another grad student student who was in the master's program and a year ahead of me who was interning at SAS. I mentioned I was looking for something and I lived in Cary, and he said, "You should come out to have lunch with me." And so I did. And you know anybody who's worked in a TV newsroom setting can relate to having kind of a bare bones work environment. You know, I mean, it's everything you see. You still have a beautiful set, but then the rest of this facility is not, you know. It's a working newsroom. And then I go to SAS, and it is essentially a Google-like campus over and on the East Coast. And I was like, "I don't know what they do here, but I should work here." So no, but it was really fortunate because the woman who ended up hiring me was also a UNC-Chapel Hill journalism grad – Kim Darnofall – who went through the master's program as well. And she knew that the J-school, as we called it, was very strong with its writing courses. And we needed, you know, at SAS, they needed people who could write stories for the Internet, and write, you know, ghost write for executives and that kind of thing. So because I had that, you know, good training through the J-school and she was familiar with the program, it just kind of came together. It really was meant to be.

00:07:40 King: Well, we like to say that Tar Heel network is important, and you just made that point.

00:07:44 Arney: Absolutely. And I continued to bias when I was hiring interns at SAS. I would always love to talk to the UNC students and probably gave them preferential treatment, but don't tell anyone.

00:07:57 King: Well, let's talk about how in the time since you graduated, which is now in 2003 and we're in 2018. So who can believe 15 years, right? This strategic communications, PR, branding, advertising, all those are now all melded together. And they have changed a lot with just the presence and the power of social media. So what have you seen? What is the big, you know, sort of movement that you've seen since you studied it and now you're really practicing it every day?

00:08:25 Arney: Yeah. I mean, I think I could say that there's some things that have stayed the same and there's some things that have changed. I would say the things that have changed are the vehicles. It's the way that we share information, you know. When I first heard about Twitter, I just scratched my head like, "What an incredible waste of time. Who cares what you're doing on a minute-by-minute basis? This is so going to blow over." So it's a good thing I was not like a tech investor because I wouldn't have done well. So those channels though, I mean, those channels have evolved and changed and have become so pervasive in everything we do. And we can talk about that in a minute how it pertains to work now, but what has not changed, and where I feel like the training that I received at UNC and the training that I received at University of Georgia, is the storytelling, you know. And this has been, you know, since the beginning of mankind. People tell stories. That's how you relate to people is through their stories, their individual stories, you know. And so I think what we've learned how to do and evolve is how we take a good story. And we amplify it through a variety of channels. And a good story will get shared and picked up and tagged and commented on and become a trending topic. It's told well, so the core content is and always will be about the people and their stories.

00:09:48 King: Can you give us an example of something that you worked on that just had that essence of the story? And so maybe you took a complicated idea and went, "Wow, it connected?"

00:09:58 Arney: Yeah, I mean, I can tell you one we just on the Walt Disney World in the community Facebook page, which I encourage you to check out. It's a story about a hearing impaired dancer who lost her hearing at age – gosh, I think she was like a toddler after she contracted meningitis, and she grew up dancing and learning how to feel the music to the vibrations, and move her body, you know, in accordance with that. And she always aspired to be on a stage in front of many, many people. And she had a supportive family and supportive dance teachers. And she now is on the stage at the "Beauty and the Beast" show at Disney's Hollywood Studios. And she is such an amazing spirit. She's a person who just accepts that this is her. I don't even want to call it a limitation, but this is her situation. And the people around her help her when she didn't quite catch something. And it's become such a bonding experience for her and her fellow cast members that it has made her endeared to the company and to her job. So the story that we posted last week a couple weeks ago, has hit – gosh, it's already reached over, 300,000 people have viewed the story. And it has been shared and commented and people are saying things like, "Oh, I saw this show. I remember this person." Some of the people commenting worked with her. Other people have deaf family members. One woman commented that she has a little girl who would love to be able to be a dancer and to see this gives her hope for her and it gives me chills. It really does because you find the person. You got to use your journalistic instinct to find those stories. There's some work to that. But when you find that story, and you find somebody who's a great emotional, you know, interview, and you can package it together with great visuals and sound, I mean, it sells itself. It really does.

00:12:00 King: And what it also sells for you and the big picture is the inspirational, which is somewhat the essence of the Disney storytelling, right, that sort of sense that people will experience that wonder and inspiration.

00:12:13 Arney: Yeah, I mean, it's funny in the story, she actually says at the end that she really feels like dreams can come true. And she laughs and says, "Oh, it's so cheesy." But, I mean, and I talked about this and say that what better way to tell your company story than through its employees. And if your employees saying dreams come true on the job and the way that you brand yourself as a company is dreams come true, like it all works together.

00:12:40 King: That's fantastic. So I do want to ask you one question. It's a technical question for all those students of PR. Internal communications is not something a lot of people think about, and you've become, you've had a specialty. You did that at SAS in some ways, and you're doing it now. What does that mean? Where you also have to worry about the employees, that internal audience, and why are they key really to a brand?

00:13:01 Arney: Oh, wow, that's another great question. And I would also tell you that at SAS, we were two separate teams. We had our PR external team, and we also had our internal comms team. And I was on the internal comms team at SAS for 13 years. And then when I had this opportunity to come to Disney, what they liked about my background is that I had worked in television, I had worked in the media, I had worked in internal communications. And I'd also been for a short time, I managed media relations for a hospital, like in between grad school and getting out of TV. So I had kind of both sides of the news desk, as well as the internal piece. And at Disney, we really approach all of our communications as being one message, you know. What we're saying externally, we're saying internally, and that's so important. And when you talked about social media, that's a big part of it, because people can share information so easily through social media. If we're not consistent with our messaging, then we can be tripped up by that. So it's just important that we have a very planned full approach to communication. And so what I would say to people is, on the aspect of considering internal comms versus the maybe, you know, more glorified look at PR, which is working with the media, is that if you can harness the power of the stories of the employees in your company, you can as effectively market, promote and emphasize that brand, through employees as advertising or placing media stories. I mean, it has the same effect, if not more, because it's so authentic. These people are already bought into the company. You're not trying to really convince them – they believe in it. And they can speak to the power of that brand so effectively and so authentically.

00:14:45 King: And they become big extenders of your brand then too.

00:14:49 Arney: Absolutely, absolutely.

00:14:51 King: So the last question is some people are going to say, "Is it worth it going on all the work to begin to get a master's degree?" It can be stopping your career. Even if you're doing a pivot point, but stopping, spending two years after you've been out of the workplace, doing the GRE, you know, etc., etc. What would you say is the importance, particularly a time when everything's changing so much? So, you know, change probably the two years, you're here. Why is it worth it?

00:15:16 Arney: Well, and it was hard for me. I worked full time. I started working when I was 15. And worked and worked, you know, through college. And so to stop working after I had been in the working world for three – I guess it was four plus years, to go back to grad school was a big change for me. I mean, it was not only not having that salary, although I had a wonderful stipends. I was grateful for that. But just that whole change was something I had to really consider. But the reason why I felt like it was beneficial – and I think that it has proven to be – is that I had a need for a specific component of my education that I was lacking. And I really felt like I needed some foundational learning. I needed the strategy and the theory and all the things that go behind what it means to be a PR professional, that I only knew from dealing with PR people when I was trying to get a comment for a story. So I didn't really know the intention that goes behind what PR professionals do, and going to school helped me to see that from a very strategic, you know, researched thought out way. Do you see what I mean? So I felt like I could be a better PR person because, not only had I worked with PR people, but I actually understood the technique and the reasoning for why we do the job the way we do it. So I would just caution people who are just wanting to be like, you know, life-long learners in the terms of just going back to school, and go back to school. Ask yourself, "What's the purpose? What are you trying to accomplish?" If it's just getting that on your resume, that doesn't necessarily land you a job. You know, you got to be able to show that that complements your other experience, your initial education and your passion. You know, it has to all come together. So I do think that's an important thing for kids or students to consider is, what is the real intention of going back to school? And is it going to accomplish what you need?

00:17:11 King: And I think in this more complicated world, having a strategic vision, as well as having skills and experience, but having a sense of being able to reinvent, to look around corners, because we don't always know the answers to things right away, being able to problem solve, and it really, in a big picture way, is really essential if you want to be a leader in our industry.

00:17:34 Arney: Yeah, absolutely. And I love that part of going to school means looking at best case scenarios, companies that have done it well and companies that have failed because you have to learn from the failures too. And I think that's just not something you get when you only work for one place. You have to be able to get in that educational environment where you're seeing the case studies of things that have gone awry and remember that when you come time to be dealing with the crisis yourself.

00:18:01 King: Lisa Ramsey Arney, one of our Park Fellows class of 2003. Thanks so much. You're a great spokesman for our program, and I'm glad to see your dream came true.

00:18:12 Arney: It definitely did. Thank you so much for having me on. I really appreciate it.

 

March 29, 2018

Kat Downs Mulder '06 is the director of product at The Washington Post and leads a team of product managers and designers who work on The Post's website, native apps, video, email, newsroom tools and subscription products. Click here to read more

This is the Start Here Never Stop podcast with Dean Susan King of the UNC School of Media and Journalism.

00:00:17 Dean Susan King: Hello, this is Susan King, the Dean of the School of Media and Journalism here at UNC-Chapel Hill. And with us, our '06 graduate Kat Downs Mulder. Welcome, Kat.

00:00:27 Kat Downs Mulder: Thank you so much. I'm really excited to be here.

00:00:29 King: We're very excited because you have had quite a career and you have a new promotion at The Washington Post, which is perhaps the most exciting place in newspaper world in 2017. So congratulations on the promotion. And you're called the director of product. So what's a newspaper doing with the director of product?

00:00:54 Downs Mulder: Well, The Washington Post has made a huge transition and expansion into digital, and we have a really fantastic and large engineering team. So my role now is to coordinate, run – we envision the direction of our products, which includes things like our website. How does it look and feel? What's the customer experience? What are the features that we have? That's things that our readers encounter, like our homepage or article page, our apps, our video, email, as well as tools that the newsroom can use. So that's building, you know, different avenues for reporters to create things for their readers themselves.

00:01:40 King: Well, I want to take that right from one point, because a lot of people who say, "A newspaper – why do they have to think about, you know, user facility and all these products?" But it is central to how people really consume the information, right?

00:01:54 Downs Mulder: Absolutely yes. So, I mean, you know, you're differentiating yourself with your content, but you're also differentiating yourself with the experience. And that's everything from how fast the pages load to an uncluttered reading experience to how easy is it to find the stories you want or the stories that are meaningful to you. And so it's really about the whole package of great content plus great experience.

00:02:19 King: You've been at The Washington Post 10 years. You started kind of as a web producer, that thing at Baltimore Sun. You've seen this transformation happen at the Washington Post. Share it with us.

00:02:30 Downs Mulder: I mean, it has been absolutely amazing. I started working at WashingtonPost.com in 2008. And at that time, you know, The Washington Post newspaper and The Washington Post website were two completely different entities and different, you know, the website was in Arlington, the newspaper was in downtown D.C. You had to take a train and cross a river to get from one to the other. And everything was very separate. And then in 2009, you know, we merged, we came together, like many mergers, you know, in companies. It was a difficult time, you know, where people are really trying to figure out how to realign and how to create a huge culture change. And we just pushed and pushed and pushed through that and really invested a lot in technology. And then, you know, in 2013, Marty Baron came, and that was a huge pivot point in the leadership of the newsroom. He started a bunch of new initiatives. And then, you know, Jeff Bezos bought the company, and our strategy, you know, changed to, you know, grow, grow, grow. You know, let's tackle, you know, national, international. Let's expand our audience. Let's, you know, be the best newspaper in the world. So, it's been an enormous, you know, enormous change culture shift inside the room to really focus on digital expansion, to really focus on, you know, increasing the breadth of topics we cover, the depth which we cover them, growing in all kinds of new content areas, but also exploring a lot of different opportunities with technologies that we use. You know, building a faster site, building new apps, partnerships with other, you know, distributed companies – Facebook, you know, Google, Snapchat, you name it. And so it's been really exciting. It's been a rollercoaster, but, I mean, it's such a wonderful place to be. I've been so lucky to be part of really just an astounding evolution and completely unexpected from where we were in 2008 when, you know, people were, you know, we were shrinking or getting smaller. So it's really a great place to work.

00:04:48 King: Astounding evolution – that is an understatement because there were some of us who thought it might fail. You know, my clothes, and Donnie Graham may have been one of the leaders of it. He was worried about that newspaper, and handed it over away, negotiated with Bezos. So he felt if there was anyone who would have a digital strategy, he would have it.

00:05:08 Downs Mulder: Yes, yes. Oh, he found a very good steward. And you know, it's been really exciting to see the change happen.

00:05:16 King: But what I also want to emphasize is people will talk about digital dimes. So it's just, you know, the old dollars. You're hiring people, reporters. You've gone international. So this digital strategy seems to also bring financial success. Give us some insight into that because many other news organizations haven't been as successful.

00:05:40 Downs Mulder: Well, I mean, I think what we've been able to do is find ways to, you know, increase the amount of reporting that we've been able to do across a bunch of different topics and through that new reporting, you know, find new audiences. For example, one of the initiatives that Marty started when he, you know, when he really first took this job was this morning mix, which is this overnight news desk. It was a market opening. And you know, that team produces a great volume of content. You know, interesting stories that are happening while other people aren't up and reporting them, captures this overnight wave from overseas as well as people early in the morning. It's just really smart, spotting the openings in the market, not just for content, but for timing and delivery method and all those things. And when you get more readers, you know, we sort of have a philosophy of reach more people. And then, you know, once you reach them, give them a great quality experience, great stories, you know, easy to use, easy to find what you want. That's sort of the engagement level that get them attached, create loyalty, and then ultimately, you know, the goal is for people to subscribe and become paying customers of the Post. So that strategy has really worked, and that's what creates the financial emphasis and the financial reward to keep it all moving.

00:07:07 King: Well, I was a longtime subscriber of the Post, and I have to say last week, I did another digital subscription because I only get it digitally. So I'm paid up, but I now want to talk about Kat Downs Mulder, the person. So you got out of school in '06 when everything was changing, really in the area of visual communication. Did we prepare you for this rollercoaster you've been on?

00:07:30 Downs Mulder: Yes, absolutely. I mean, really, I just think about like how lucky, you know, I got going to UNC and, you know, I knew I wanted to major in journalism, you know, when I came to college, but I didn't realize before I went that UNC had this amazing visual, you know, visual communication program, which is, I mean, really the No. 1 reason that I am where I am. I sort of stumbled upon it in school by being in the J-school and just being exposed to some of the classes, and what I learned in school was, you know, photo journalism and then what at that time was called multimedia. But it was basically, you know, video, audio, programming, some interactive design. And me and the cohort that I graduated from with, like we're in all of the biggest news organizations in the world, you know, New York Times, The Guardian, you name it. There's probably an UNC multimedia grad there. And I learned, you know, I learned great storytelling, I learned interactive media, I learned user interface design. I've used, you know, video editing, I've used photo editing. It's actually pretty cool, you know, when people ask me what I went to college for, I'm like, "I went to college for basically exactly what I do now," which is fantastic. I mean, not many people can say that. So I'm really grateful for everything that I learned at UNC, and I still think about some of the lessons that I learned in school.

00:09:04 King: And when you grow up in Franklin, North Carolina, did you know then you wanted to be a journalist? I know you didn't know you wanted to be an interactive product developer because it wasn't even there then. But was there a curiosity about telling the story of your time and your world to people?

00:09:18 Downs Mulder: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I was interested in storytelling. I've always been like a great big reader. And really interested in people, places, and things and what's happening, and I loved writing and I love, you know, arts and crafts and drawing. And when I was in high school, I, you know, did the school newspaper and I had a lot of fun with that. I edited some sections for my school paper. And so it just felt like something that was a fun thing that you could do for a job and you could also help the world while doing it. And it continues to be. I mean, this job is amazing. It's fun and rewarding. It's something where you get to learn every day. And that's one of the things that definitely attracted me into the, you know, into the digital, and now into the product side is just like sort of that – so dynamic. I mean, you're learning all the time, not just about the individual stories or now business areas and things like that. But just, you know, you're growing all the time. You have to because this environment is just incredibly fast-moving and fast-paced. And that's awesome, because you never just feel like you're doing the same thing over and over again.

00:10:37 King: And of course, you're a mom of two in a 24/7 ever-evolving world. How do you balance it all? Juggle?

00:10:45 Downs Mulder: Oh, man. Well, I mean, I'm lucky I have a great job that I love and it's not too crazy, you know. And then I go home and I get to be with my kids, and it's a full life, but I feel like it all fits somehow. And luckily, you know, the Post is a really flexible place to work. And, you know, it's nice to be in a role where, you know, I think my kids will really be interested in what I do when they grow up. And it's important work that's really meaningful. So it all fits.

00:11:18 King: That's great. And so the last question is really to the students who are graduating now and studying with us right now. What guidance can you tell them? Because it's going to change in the next 10 years, for sure.

00:11:33 Downs Mulder: Yeah, I mean, the main thing is keep learning. You know, keep growing, chase your curiosities, talk to the people that you meet, reach out to the people that you want to meet, ask them questions about what they do, ask for their advice, ask for their feedback on your work. And just, you know, stay curious and keep growing. And then, you know, if you get an opportunity, seize it, take it, run at it. Like I mean, I think starting, you know, I had a job at The Baltimore Sun, which is a great, you know, which is a great paper. And I got really lucky to do that, but I was working a shift that was like 6 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon. You know, basically like taking stuff from the newspaper and sticking it on the internet – it was not glamorous. But those are the opportunities, you know. It took, you know, two days a week to do the type of work that I loved. And the rest of the time did the grunt work. And I think you can't expect to start at the top. And so you just need to really kind of figure out how to get where you want to go, and that's, you know, just by being willing to get in there and do the work and keep learning and prove your value. And, you know, I think if you do that, you'll succeed.

00:12:44 King: And you certainly have, and we're very proud of you. And I am personally proud of how wellTthe Washington Post, a paper I love, has done. So Kat Downs Mulder, '06, thank you for all you've done and for the students that you've mentored since you left us, and you even hired some at The Washington Post. Thank you.

00:13:04 Downs Mulder: Thank you so much.

 

March 8, 2018

Brian Strong '00 is the senior vice president of brand communications at FOX Sports, working to elevate the brand storytelling strategy connected to key sports and entertainment moments, digital platforms, major marketing campaigns and special projects. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Feb. 23, 2018

Natasha Duarte '11, '16 (M.A.) is a policy analyst at Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT). CDT is a nonprofit that works to preserve the user-controlled nature of the internet and champion freedom of expression. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Feb. 16, 2018

Christina Vidal '12 is a brand and marketing strategist focused on travel who founded Jetset Christina, a luxury travel website focused on showcasing the best in the world's most swoon-worthy locales. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Feb. 5, 2018

Jason Cooper '01 is a virtual and augmented reality specialist and Chief Digital Officer at Horizon Productions. In addition to recording the podcast, Cooper created a 360-degree video of his conversation with Dean Susan King. Click here to read more and see the 360-degree interview

Coming soon

 

Dec. 14, 2017

Parth Shah '15 is the second-ever graduate of the MJ-school to receive the prestigious Kroc Fellowship from National Public Radio. Currently, Shah is a producer at NPR working on Hidden Brain, a social science podcast and radio show which links research from psychology and neurobiology with findings from economics, anthropology and sociology, among other fields. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Nov. 30, 2017

Rachel McMahan '17 (M.A.) is the first-ever graduate of the UNC Environment and Science Communication dual-degree program — a path that enabled her to receive a bachelor's degree in environmental studies and a master's degree in mass communication in just five years. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Nov. 22, 2017

Pailin Wedel '04 is a Thai-American video journalist based in Thailand and the founder of TwentyFifty Productions in Bangkok. In 2017, she received a Whicker’s World Funding Award for her documentary, Hope Frozen, a film probing the ethics and morality of cryogenics and the meaning of death. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Nov. 10, 2017

Alexandra Rizk Keane '14 is a film producer, writer and editor and the founder of an independent production company — Rizk Pictures — launched in 2016. Rizk Keane is also producer for the 2017 feature film Literally, Right Before Aaron, a Rizk Pictures Production. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Oct. 23, 2017

Emily Steel '06 is a business reporter at The New York Times, where she has covered the media industry since 2014. While there, her reporting exposed a series of settlements related to sexual harassment allegations against Bill O’Reilly, the former Fox News host. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Oct. 3, 2017

Claudia Howard '03 is currently the global brand manager at The Weather Company, spearheading strategy and execution of marketing efforts to optimize the user experience, and grow and retain the user base for digital and mobile products with partners in various global markets. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

March 2, 2017

Jess Clark '15 (M.A.) is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities. As a graduate student, she was lead writer and managing editor for WholeHogNC.org, a special multimedia report on North Carolina’s hog industry from UNC’s award-winning series, "Powering A Nation." Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Jan. 25, 2017

Kathryn Walker '16 was a double major in political science and public relations with a minor in history. On campus, she served as house chair of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, chair of the College Republicans and CEO of Carolina Liberty Foundation. The Presidential Scholar program has offered her the opportunity to learn more about higher education through work varying from planning the president’s inauguration to honing writing skills with the communications team. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Dec. 22, 2016

Lisa Stockman '91, '13 (M.A.) is the president of communications for inVentiv Health. She has more than 25 years of communications experience in ethical pharmaceuticals for clients including AbbVie, Amgen, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer and Roche as well as consumer goods companies including Coca-Cola. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Nov. 18, 2016

Tarini Parti '12 is a Capitol Hill reporter for BuzzFeed, based in Washington, D.C. She joined BuzzFeed in 2015 after working for Politico, where she covered money and politics, campaigns and agriculture since 2012 following her graduation from the UNC School of Media and Journalism. At Carolina, she served as the managing editor for The Daily Tar Heel and worked internships for the Center for Responsive Politics and The Christian Science Monitor. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Nov. 3, 2016

Leigh Goodwyn '88 is a 1988 graduate of the MJ-school with 20 years of marketing experience with major television networks including Turner Broadcasting and Discovery Networks, where she worked in affiliate marketing, advertising sales/marketing and eventually rose to head of international marketing. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Aug. 12, 2016

Roxane Coche '13 (Ph.D.) — a sports journalist turned university professor — worked as a freelance sports reporter and producer in Paris for three years, collaborating with several TV networks. Passionate about sports and gender equality, her research interests revolve around gender issues in sports media content, especially in online and social media. Most recently, Coche has organized and is leading a study abroad program at the Rio Olympics, featuring 29 MJ-school and 14 University of Memphis students. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

July 21, 2016

Aaron Dodson '15 is an assistant editor for The Undefeated, ESPN's premier platform for exploring the intersections of race, sports and culture. In 2015, he graduated from the UNC School of Media and Journalism with a major in reporting and a minor in history. He has previously worked in the sports departments at The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

June 29, 2016

Brad Hamm '96 (Ph.D.) is the dean of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Previously, he was the dean of the Indiana University Media School. Hamm, who earned his undergraduate degree at Catawba College and his master’s degree in journalism from the University of South Carolina, has also served as associate dean of the School of Communications at Elon University. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

May 20, 2016

Nikole Hannah-Jones '03 (M.A.) won a 2016 Peabody Award for her collection of "This American Life" episodes on school segregation called "The Case for School Desegregation Today." The collection includes "Three Miles" and a two-part series called "The Problem We All Live With." Hannah-Jones earned her master's degree from the UNC School of Media and Journalism in 2003, where she was a Park Fellow. Click here to read more

This is the Start Here Never Stop podcast with Dean Susan King of the UNC School of Media and Journalism.

00:00:13 Dean Susan King: Hello, this is Susan King, the Dean of the School of Media and Journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill and talking to one of our star alumna, Nikole Hannah-Jones. Welcome.

00:00:25 Nikole Hannah-Jones: Thank you.

00:00:26 King: First thing, we want to congratulate you. What a wonderful award you have won – The 2016 Peabody. And for those of us in broadcasting, you want to pour some of your radio work. We know this is the Pulitzer of our field, so it's really a big deal. Congratulations.

00:00:44 Hannah-Jones: Thank you so much. I was very excited.

00:00:46 King: And what's it say to you to have this award? You've won others for this work with NPR.

00:00:53 Hannah-Jones: I think, I mean, I'm actually a print reporter. So it's been really gratifying and exciting to be able to do work across platforms and also to be acknowledged for that work.

00:01:08 King: Absolutely. And I'm going to ask you a little bit about that cross platform cause, of course, we're trying to have all our students prepared for that. But I want to start first with the sense of you as an investigative reporter. You, of course, left here and went up to that great ProPublica where you work for a few years and are now at The New York Times. And do you see yourself as an investigative reporter or something different because you're covering a whole, you know, cultural sort of movement, segregation, race, our culture. How do you describe what you're doing these days?

00:01:39 Hannah-Jones: Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, I think I'm a reporter. All good reporters are doing investigative work. Just people who get to call themselves investigative reporter, and reporters, I think, get a lot more time to do that work. So some of my work is very investigative. And some of it isn't. And I just think that  I'm always trying to use my best reporting skills. And I'm definitely trying to write about race in a way that shows that we can do strong accountability reporting about this and that much of the racial inequality that we see in our society is the result of official actions and policies and that there are people we should be holding accountable.

00:02:27 King: I see you also putting ideas and issues around race, particularly into context. Do you sometimes happen to store a perspective? You always have a policy focus. Am I right?

00:02:39 Hannah-Jones: Yes, I would say I rarely, if ever write anything that doesn't have a lot of historical research. Because I think, in general, history is important to understand these kind of large societal issues. But I think it is critical when it comes to race, particularly in America because we don't know a lot of its history. A lot of its history, you don't get in school. And it is very hard to understand racial inequality in a vacuum. You can't just look and see how things are today. You have to understand that so much of this was created through our history and through very intentional decision-making and action through history. So we often joke that every piece I write, every long piece I write begins in 1619, which is when the first Africans were brought to this country as slaves. And I say that tongue in cheek, but in some ways it is true. I believe that race is foundational to our country and you just cannot write about anything – policing, school segregation, mass incarceration – without putting it in the historical context, at least not write about it and write about it well, and in a way that truly informed the readership.

00:03:53 King: Well, I felt for many years that the great gift of journalism is when you do put issues and questions into context for the public, the reader and the listener. But so often we do things thin, quick, fast, and people don't feel they get context.

00:04:11 Hannah-Jones: Yeah, I think that's true. And particularly now, we've always been a competitive business, but now there's just so many different news sites, and people want to be first and that's important, but I think a lot of times the coverage then is just, it's not really that informative or helpful. It tends to just regurgitate what's been said by someone. It's not offering any real analysis. And I think we really do, we really do our democracy a disservice. With that said, everyone can't take as long as I take on a piece. But you certainly can try, even in a shorter, quick hit pieces to get that context. Even a couple of graphs that can help put this, put whatever it is that you're writing about in your life that really helps people understand.

00:04:59 King: Now, you've been doing this work, particularly with the race focus for a number of years, but it seems like this year, more than the last half dozen, race has been so face forward on our society, really challenging communities and the public and politicians. Do you see that as an aberration or could you see it coming?

00:05:24 Hannah-Jones: No, I definitely didn't see it coming. I think we are in very, we're in a very unusual and interesting time. I'm 40 years old. And I can say, I don't remember, at least out of my adult life, a time we've ever been talking about and dealing with, both as a society and as news media, with race like we are now. I think what has happened with the cell phone videos, police violence, and this movement that has arisen around that across campuses, but also in communities that we have ignored. I think it's just, it is centered race in the conversation, and of course, the election of President Obama, this term coming to an end, a Senate race in a way that I have not seen in my lifetime.

00:06:15 King: And it's got a conversation on campuses. That certainly hasn't happened. I always feel I'm so privileged to be here to see and witness this at this generation. I kind of feel it's a new civil rights movement.

00:06:28 Hannah-Jones: Yes, I definitely am calling that. I think that that is what we're seeing. And we're seeing all of the pushes and pulls that come with that. I think that there's been an awakening, which always happens. I mean, the last civil rights movement, it was years and years of people pushing and not getting any traction, not being able to build mass movements, not being able to get media coverage. And then there's a breakthrough. I think in that case, it was the Montgomery bus boycott. And in this case, it was Black Lives Matter and police violence. But we go through these periods in this country where, you know, our nature is to ignore race. Our nature is to downplay the role of race. And then we go through these periods of rediscovery that still is a fundamental issue that we have not grappled with, and we are in a burst of that grappling. The problem is how long will the attention last. How long will we stay focused on it? And I think that's always the issue. We have a very fleeting attention span for dealing with race as well.

00:07:37 King: Absolutely. Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist?

00:07:43 Hannah-Jones: I wouldn't say always, but from a pretty young age, I would, I think I wrote my first letter to the editor of our local paper, maybe when I was in fifth grade. I always consumed both history and news from a young age, and I joined my high school newspaper. I won my first journalism award in high school. And so I always, I've had two loves. I was either going to be a history professor or a journalist, and ultimately decided on journalism because journalism was right for the masses, and we're also writing kind of the first version of history. So yeah, it was, I was going to be doing something like this, and my career started really in high school.

00:08:28 King: You've been able to keep in the business and get to the top. I don't think any print reporter can say anything, but the New York Times is one of the world's top news organizations and you're there. And it's been a time of complete disruption during your career. What had you persevere and more soar?

00:08:51 Hannah-Jones: Yeah, you know, I don't know. I often say I'm a very blessed woman. I started in news in 2003. Right after I graduated from Carolina, and as you know, within two years, the bottom of the industry it completely fallen out. So I've gone through waves of layoffs, waves, waves and waves of restructuring. Nearly every friend I have who came into the newsroom with me is not in the newsroom anymore. And somehow I have survived. It hasn't always been easy. There were certainly have been times where I too was considering leaving the profession not feeling like there was a place to advance, not feeling like the restructuring and the focus on survival was going to allow me to do the type of work that I got into this business to do. But right at those moments, I, you know, it's like I don't know, the universe intervened. And I've been able to stay in, I think. I don't. Yeah, I think a lot of it has been luck. Just sticking it out. And honestly, not being able to think of what else I would do besides this because I do feel like journalism is my calling. So even at those times where I was contemplating leaving the industry, I literally couldn't think of what I would do besides this. So I think a real love and passion for journalism, and just really trying to work hard to provide something that would make me someone that newsrooms would still want.

00:10:30 King: And you have done that over and over again. And I think that's well said, but I guess you also would not discourage people from doing it, at least from being passionate about telling some stories.

00:10:45 Hannah-Jones: Oh, no. I think, you know, journalism will change, but there will always be a need for what we do. I think that this work is some of the most important work in our democracy. And I mentor a lot of young people who are just as excited and so just as mission driven about the craft of journalism as I was. And so I would never encourage anyone who who believes that this is important work not to do it. I do think that it's just, it's becoming increasingly difficult to make a good living at it. I think it is a very unstable industry, and it can be very hard. So you really do have to have a passion to survive, but you can and, you know, knock on wood, The New York Times isn't going anywhere. We still have great newspapers, The Washington Post that are doing outstanding work. And we have new media that's doing outstanding work, and people are coming up with new models to support this work all of the time. So, you know, journalism isn't going anywhere. The formats may go, change. The old models may go away, but the work we do is profoundly important, and it always will be.

00:11:53 King: And we're very proud that you're one of the Park Fellows 2003. Of course, we feel that those Park Fellows in both the PhD, the master's degree are really game changers for the individuals and so pleased to have the Park family supporting us. Was it that that gave you that sort of jump into the industry that might have been harder to make?

00:12:15 Hannah-Jones: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I'm so grateful for the Park Fellowship for many reasons. One, I graduated undergrad with a lot of debt. And as we know, journalism is not the most lucrative field to go into. So the chance to get, you know, a top tier journalism education and not have to worry about tuition, everything. The research grant that comes with a Park Fellowship was amazing. I think it allowed me to do the type of work that helped me to stand out and just the support of the program in general. So it is truly a blessing for me and every other person has been lucky enough to get that fellowship.

00:12:57 King: And we hope to continue to give it for many years to come. Nikole Hannah-Jones, we're thrilled that you've spent some time to share what you're doing now and your passion with all our alums and our students, and we look forward to having you at Chapel Hill soon. It's been a few years.

00:13:14 Hannah-Jones: Thank you.

00:13:15 King: Talk to you soon. Bye bye.

00:13:17 Hannah-Jones: All right.

 

May 4, 2016

Jeff Mittelstadt '12 (M.A.) is the founder and president of WildSides. His goal is to use his background in policy, economics, business, higher education and documentary journalism to cover human-wildlife conflict issues like they've never been covered before. He earned a master's degree at the UNC School of Media and Journalism in 2012, where he was a Roy H. Park Fellow. Click here to read more

This is the Start Here Never Stop podcast with Dean Susan King of the UNC School of Media and Journalism.

00:00:14 Dean Susan King: Hello, I'm Susan King, the Dean of the School of Media and Journalism with one of our Park Fellows, Jeff Mittelstadt, Class of 2012. And congratulations on a master's degree from our school with that Park Fellow denomination. Pretty nice, huh?

00:00:28 Jeff Mittelstadt: It was absolutely amazing from day one.

00:00:32 King: And why would you say it was amazing in one sentence?

00:00:35 Mittelstadt: In one sentence? Opportunity in terms of the people that I got to learn from, but also the connection with the surrounding community, especially when you're going into documentary journalism. The surrounding community is very open to everybody who works in the School of Journalism.

00:00:54 King: I can see that it really changed your projection. I could tell that when I read your bio. And the reason I asked you for one sentence was when I look at what you've done over the last number of years – and you're not very old – I thought this is the Renaissance man.

00:01:10 Mittelstadt: Well, thank you.

00:01:11 King: You've done energy, you have done sustainability, you have done green door. You're now a documentary producer. That's a pretty amazing, eclectic kind of career.

00:01:21 Mittelstadt: Well, thank you, but it all connects to me. When I was a kid, I fell in love with wildlife. And from that point on, I wanted to understand human behavior and how we interact with the environment and wildlife, and just different people's opinions and different people's perspectives and life stories. So it all connected to me.

00:01:42 King: But when you got out of school, you went in a more traditional track rather than just a storytelling track in a way, right?

00:01:48 Mittelstadt: When I got out of journalism school?

00:01:50 King: Well, no. Before you came here and then put a cap on it with the direction, which is why I think you said opportunity is the first word that came to your mind with Park. But you worked in that environmental space is the way I would put it.

00:02:03 Mittelstadt: Yes. Yes. Well, I was a psychology major in undergrad, and I was interested in how humans behave, how we see things. And then I realized that I needed to connect that with what I love, which is wildlife and the environment. And so when, I went to school for environmental management, resource, economics and policy, worked for the EPA's Office of Inspector General.

00:02:29 King: See what I mean? The EPA's inspector general and you've become a documentary producer. Wow, you know.

00:02:36 Mittelstadt: So and then went and realized I needed to understand another stakeholder group. And so I went into business in order to do that and did some consulting and worked in green building, like you said, and sustainable manufacturing, but the whole thing throughout all of that was understanding different perspectives. And how do you bring people together who have a different view of the world to find solutions to the world's problems?

00:02:59 King: And then you wanted to bring it to them up close and personal, rather than, I guess, just through a policy, huh?

00:03:04 Mittelstadt: Correct. And I felt like I really like working with people in a room together. How do I work with people who aren't here with me? So how do I learn how to communicate issues and different people's perspectives to the masses, if you will.

00:03:21 King: So when did it come to you that you actually defined for yourself that you wanted to be a documentary producer out of this? I mean, was it the storyteller gene?

00:03:31 Mittelstadt: Yes, that's one piece of it. And quite frankly, I was getting a little sick of being in offices and boardrooms and cubicles. And so, I mean, I spent a good six to eight months thinking about, "OK, how do I utilize everything that I've gotten to experience and gotten to learn and apply it to something that would just make me extremely happy every day that I got up?" And after all that research, I came to documentary journalism.

00:04:01 King: And what I love is the name of the company that you created. You are the founder and the president of WildSides.

00:04:09 Mittelstadt: Yes, I think it's catchy, I'm told. And it really, really brings in the idea that we concentrate on human wildlife conflict issues, but all the sides of those issues, so every stakeholder's perspective.

00:04:26 King: And when you make a film, and I want you to tell me just a, you know, a few minutes about that. What motivates you most? Sort of how it will fit into a larger question that you're dealing with? That it's just a good story? How do you think that? Because you do have this policy background, so I get the sense that you want to motivate people by really exposing them to things in a way that's very engaging.

00:04:48 Mittelstadt: Yeah. One of the things that I always tell people is just that – one thing that's bothered me throughout my life is that we've become more and more polarized as a society. And what's the one thing that really can grab anybody's attention, regardless of what they think about an issue? And that's human stories and human interest stories that relate somehow to that person. What I'm finding on the red wolf issue, for example, is that there are similarities among people on either side of the issue. And that if we can show those people's personal stories and their perspectives, that people on the other side of the issue might connect to that story still.

00:05:35 King: So tell us a little bit about this red wolf work. You are producing a documentary, but you're actually producing more than one documentary. So tell me a little bit about that.

00:05:44 Mittelstadt: OK. Yeah, it's going to come back to the journalism school. Come back to here is that in March of 2011, was the first time that I filmed on the red wolf issue for a class here at UNC-Chapel Hill. And I've been filming with people on all sides of the issues, so red wolf biologists, advocates, and wildlife advocates, hunters, trappers, landowners, people who don't want the red wolf around and people who have dedicated their life to the red wolf. And I have gone down to northeastern North Carolina to cover the red wolf issue since then. And the one thing about that issue is that predators are always very divisive. Wolves are always very divisive. And it was tough at first to find those similarities. But the more time I spent with them, which is what I learned here in the multimedia program especially, is that the more time you spend with somebody, the more you get into their story, and then that way, you really find those similarities across differences. And one way to explain that is that a red wolf biologist, who has dedicated his life to red wolves and saving red wolves, grows his own food for his family, goes out and hunts one or two deer every year for venison for his family, and I was sitting down with a hunter and trapper and told that hunter and trapper that the red wolf biologist had just gone out to hunt for deer. And he stopped and he just paused and he looked at me and he said, "He hunts for venison for his family?" I said, "Yeah. So what do you think about the red wolf program?" And this is a red wolf biologist who has dedicated his life to saving the red wolves. But it's that kind of pause when you find a similarity on different sides that really has motivated me to do these stories. So those stories include the overall conflict of red wolves showing all their perspectives. The Fish and Wildlife Service federal agency is doing an evaluation of whether or not the red wolf recovery program will even continue. That's due in September, so we're covering that. There are three lawsuits against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by wildlife advocacy groups challenging the Fish and Wildlife Services management of the red wolf program. I'm doing a story on a hunter and trapper and the transference of hunting traditions from generation to generation. And then the more urgent story, because of timing that I'm working on right now, is that a red wolf biologist was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in June. And once he was diagnosed, he asked me to tell his story.

00:08:43 King: And so his ability to even talk is going to be minimized at a certain point.

00:08:47 Mittelstadt: Yes, he cannot speak anymore.

00:08:50 King: So it sounds like you're not trying to come out and tell people the truth of the story. You're trying to reflect all the different perspectives on it, as you say in these very things. That people see a bigger story, not just your point of view.

00:09:04 Mittelstadt: Definitely not just my point of view. We try to keep WildSides out of the points of view. Our job is to tell the points of view to to provide transparency and to translate data and legal issues so that the regular person on the street can understand them.

00:09:23 King: OK, but you yourself probably want to keep these wolves still roaming somewhere, right? You've got a passion for them or?

00:09:33 Mittelstadt: I have a passion for wildlife, and it's really important that I keep what I want out of it because I don't live there. I want humans to be able to live in concert with wildlife. But there are a lot of different things that come into play. And so I really try to just take myself out of it now. Hunters and trappers when I first went down there, they didn't trust journalists. And so they asked me, "What are you doing here?" And I said, "Well, I'm a wildlife person. But you have a story that I don't know or understand yet that the world needs to know and understand if we're ever going to figure out solutions to these issues."

00:10:15 King: So I don't wanna go into objectivity, but I'm a journalist and I get what you say. Because sometimes you're driven by more than anything to help people understand other people and to make decisions because that's what's great about democracy. So tell me what brought you to that, or how you think of yourself in there. What is your own describer for yourself in this, you know, kind of divisive debate, as you say?

00:10:39 Mittelstadt: Definitely. I think that this is going to be a long-term project. I think that if we can start to get people to see each other as people on either side of these kinds of issues, and to see those similarities that we'll start having more conversations that are not as polarized. So I'm hoping that in the future, what's going to come from this is that we'll learn from this project from the red wolf issue, so that we can better manage predator-human relationships going forward. And so I really do think that if we take the time to tell all the stories and to share data as well, and research and do so in an engaging manner that connects to people who might not be interested in wildlife at all, that we'll be able to get to that point where we can have solutions that are less divisive. That's my hope at least.

00:11:39 King: So I'm going for nice philosophical moment to one that's kind of practical. Some of my students are going to be listening to this.

00:11:45 Mittelstadt: Definitely.

00:11:46 King: How are you making money?

00:11:48 Mittelstadt: Well, that's a great question. So far, everything's been done out of my own savings. We are in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign right now, and we are in the middle of applying for grants. And going forward, there are opportunities for not only grants, but also for sponsorship of pages, but you really have to look at who's sponsoring each of those pages. That's a longer-term project in and of itself.

00:12:23 King: But you're doing what you love now, and that pays pretty well. So the last thing is people think out there, "Hmm, master's degree. Should I get a master's degree?" It was a pivot point for you. So what would you say to people about taking two years off and following something like this?

00:12:42 Mittelstadt: If you love it, do it. I mean, for me, I spent those two years thinking of it as work. So even in my application to come here, it was, "I'm going to create a nonprofit." I didn't have the name yet, but I'm going to create a nonprofit that covers human wildlife conflict issues from every perspective. And that was part of my application when I applied. And I wanted to create the business plan for that. And I incorporated creating the business plan for that. I incorporated learning obviously how to do documentary journalism into everything that I did during those two years. I never really thought of it as taking two years off. It was a job to me, but a job that I loved so.

00:13:23 King: And it was a way to turn your career from EPA to director of sustainability at college to inspector general into a future that you could define.

00:13:36 Mittelstadt: Yeah, exactly.

00:13:38 King: That's pretty worth it.

00:13:39 Mittelstadt: Absolutely worth it.

00:13:40 King: I’m going to end by just saying yes, siree. Jeff Mittelstadt, 2012 Park Fellow, Renaissance man. Thanks for being with me.

00:13:47 Mittelstadt: Thank you so much.

00:13:51 King: So it’s Mittel. Mittelstadt, I guess, yeah.

00:13:53 Mittelstadt: Mittelstadt.

00:13:54 King: Mittelstadt.

00:13:55 Mittelstadt: And we Americanized it a little bit. My dad still says Mittelstadt.

 

April 19, 2016

Brooke Baldwin '01 anchors the 2-4 p.m. edition of CNN Newsroom. Prior to CNN, Baldwin worked at WTTG in Washington, D.C.; WOWK in Charleston/Huntington, W.Va.; and WVIR in Charlottesville, Va. In 2008, Baldwin moved to CNN, based in the network's New York bureau. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

April 4, 2016

Rochelle Riley '81 is the Metro Columnist for the Detroit Free Press. On Sunday, April 17, 2016, she was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, housed at Michigan State University. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

March 18, 2016

Justin Lyons '06 graduated from the UNC School of Media and Journalism in 2006 with a public relations specialization. He received the Lois and H.C. Cranford Jr. Award from the school as the outstanding graduating senior in public relations. Click here to read more

Coming soon

 

Feb. 29, 2016

Carolyn Van Houten '14 was named the 2015 Newspaper Photographer of the Year, 2015 College Photographer of the Year and placed first in the 2014-15 Hearst Journalism Awards Photojournalism Competition. Click here to read more

Coming soon