Alumnus Charts a New Path in TV News
In an era of social media, fake news, and opinion hosts on cable news, I knew it was time to chart a new path in my beloved profession.
Like so many others, my viewing habits had changed over the years. No longer would I wait to turn on the television to find out what was going on in the world. Instead, I found myself scrolling through my customized Twitter news feed first thing in the morning or scanning news apps for fascinating stories.
I never thought TV news would go away in my lifetime, but it was undoubtedly evolving. And I wanted to embrace the change. So, I set out to develop my skill set and test new muscles with a master’s program. I knew from the start that I didn’t need another journalism degree. Twenty-two years at CNN in Atlanta, London, and Los Angeles had given me a professional master’s of sorts. I had spent more than a decade as a newsroom leader, managing producers, writers, and anchors, and I wanted to develop my leadership skills while also focusing on the evolving digital landscape.
I researched several programs, but the progressions were rigid and the course descriptions uninspiring. Somehow, I stumbled on Gonzaga University’s Master's in Communication & Leadership (COML) webpage. That small school in the northwest with a first-rate basketball program? I grew up in Indiana and got my Bachelor of Arts in Journalism at Indiana University during the Bobby Knight era. My high school mascot was a bulldog. Everything was coming full circle.
Immediately, I gravitated towards the electives. Students could customize their coursework to suit their professional and personal interests, and the Digital Media Strategies Concentration seemed perfect. Courses would be a mix of communication, leadership, and digital content creation. The online aspect was also crucial; I worked in Los Angeles, and I wanted something that I could do alongside my job. I spoke to people in the department, and someone described the degree as an MBA for communications professionals. I loved that, and I knew this was the right program for me.
My timing was fortuitous: a few months after starting the COML program, the winds of change blew into my life. My bosses had decided to relocate my team back to Atlanta in a cost-cutting move. Everyone got to keep their jobs, but moving cross-country again was less than desirable.
After much deliberation, I decided to stay in LA, where I would become a full-time student and freelance on the side. Fifteen months later, I wrapped up the program with my capstone project and set out to search for new career opportunities.
Less than three months after graduating, I began interviewing for a dream job. Ultimately, my digital media strategies concentration paid off: I am now the managing director for digital at Spectrum Networks West, where I oversee teams of journalists in LA and Texas. I am responsible for our digital storytelling, social media strategy, and content creation – all elements of the COML program.
It’s a new world now in many ways. GU allowed me to enhance my skills and blaze a new trail for the “second act” of my career.