What makes a TV Newsroom?

Personality, Passion. A sense of Purpose.

At least the good ones have that.  A few other things of course, like talented reporters, smart producers, great cameramen who thrive on news, and management who knows the difference between ratings periods and long term success.

The really good ones I’ve seen also possess grit, values, a sense of place and community.  They create a culture where competition drives a group of individuals into a bonded powerhouse that consistently wins the audience, breaks news, serves the news needs of voters and projects a team that enjoys doing what they are doing.
WRAL, Raleigh’s family owned CBS station, is that kind of station.  After 5 days inside its newsroom— as the station’s partner in the CBC UNC Diversity fellowship program—I know why they have dominated the Raleigh market for so many years.  The staff is the real thing.
A dozen young college broadcasters from across the country won admission to the second CBC UNC Diversity fellowship program this year.  They learned from a dedicated group of pros who have reached every level of success in their jobs and seemed to want to achieve one more thing: sharing the personality, passion and sense of purpose at WRAL with a new generation of broadcasters.

What does it mean to be a minority today in a newsroom – decades after the word diversity changed male dominated news organizations?  It still means being alone at times, being questioned, and being determined that you want to make it.  At WRAL this weekend, the second class of fellows met a team of managers, producers, cameramen and anchors who wants talent to thrive – no matter what their background. As every great newsroom knows, who sits around the decision table determines the strengths and weaknesses of a news team’s judgment.   Diversity isn’t a nice thing to have – it makes the difference.

On Wednesday, 12 young well educated seniors walked into the WRAL newsroom eager to put this competitive fellowship on their resume. They left the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication Sunday night with confidence after an emotional closing dinner with the WRAL brass.  They left North Carolina aware that at one top TV station, there is a commitment to quality, to the future, and to broadcast news that makes a difference.

For me, it was also the perfect partnership between a university and an industry leader.   Both of us working from our own strengths determined to build a new generation of news professionals who want to make a difference.


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