What Makes A Woman Leader?

What makes a woman leader?  Especially in the very competitive world of Television News?

We asked CNN’s Brooke Baldwin to answer that question.

 There was standing room only at the special UNC JOMC Women in Media Leadership talk timed for parents’ weekend and they were all anxious to hear the answer.    There were lots of young women of ambition in the audience, but also quite a few men and curious parents.

Brooke Baldwin is the 34 year-old anchor of CNN’s daily 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. news program. She brought her energy, verve, intelligence, drive, passion, ambition, honesty and impressive career to the stage.  She didn’t have a secret answer to the question of why she has won a slot on the national stage only a dozen years after her graduation.  But it was clear that this was no lucky break.

She isn’t a leader because she is tall and quite beautiful.  Both of which she is.   Her passion for her job and her determination to succeed came through loud and clear.  But it was the fact she does her homework that convinced me she makes success happen.  Before she does a story or tackles an issue, Brooke floods the zone: learning all she can so that she doesn’t come up short in the interview or in the inevitable moment when the guest’s mike goes dead, the live shot dies, the plans don’t pan out. Brooke always comes prepared.

Brooke was generous with her praise for the school of Journalism and the skills she learned while at UNC.  She was active in the Carolina Week TV News program that launched her reporting and anchoring style and to which she gives much credit.  But it was the tough criticism that she remembers most  – not the accolades or the big fun moments.

As she told the story on the stage with her professor who gave her a “C” for her first news package, you could still feel the disappointment of the 20 year old.  The feelings of not being the best were still fresh in her memory.   Year’s ago she left Dr. T’s office—T as in Charlie Tuggle—and cried buckets.  That setback however, may have been her best lesson.

Brooke Baldwin didn’t want to be average, or only good enough.  She proved she was competitive and could work hard.  She never looked back.  That C was the rallying experience that led her to step up her game and to end the semester with a top grade.  That experience also convinced her to see she would always have to push the limits if she was going to meet her own expectations and the expectations of the TV world.

Brooke Baldwin is in her fourth stop on her television career.  She started at a small station in Charlottesville, Virginia, moved from there to West Virginia, then to Washington, D.C.  She has been in Atlanta and at CNN for just over five years.  Her drive convinces me that she will be a fixture on the big stories of our time and a television journalist we’ll be watching for many years.  She shared her warmth, her lessons and her love of the business with every one in the audience. Not just from the stage, but with every young journalist that came to talk with her.

What makes Brooke Baldwin a leader?  The fact that not only is she interested in doing well, but she is interested in giving back.  Brooke is a leader who listens, inspires and believes you bring along others with you.

You can see that style for yourself on our U-Tube channel:  http://jomc.unc.edu/2013events/baldwin

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