by Savanna Hazlewood // Staff Writer
Former CNN executive producer Jeffery Reid shared his insight into media diversity and offered career advice to Journalism students Monday night as part of MTSU’s Black History Month.
Reid, an MTSU alumnus, is most critically acclaimed for executive producing the Black in America series with Soledad O’Brien, and has covered breaking news such as the war in Iraq, 9/11, the assassination of Osama bin Laden and six presidential elections.
He currently works with Gannett Broadcasting in Atlanta as part of the investigative unit, and previously served as the executive producer for CNN as well as Atlanta’s local WXIA-TV.
Reid’s son, Jeffrey Reid Jr., President of MTSU’s chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, introduced him.
“Tonight I have the honor of introducing a man who is the epitome of a college of Mass Communication success story,” Reid Jr. said, “Growing up on a small family farm in rural Tennessee, Reid would go on to become CNN’s first black executive producer.”
“This country is becoming more diverse every day,” Reid declared. “Twenty years from now, the white population will no longer be the majority; it’s going to be the minority. The key is having people of color being able to make decisions on who they’re hiring and the stories they’re covering.”
He went on to explain, “Diversity is key because what’s a good story to me may not be a good story to the other five white people sitting around the table. But if I have the decision-making [authority], I am going to cover the story that impacts me, my family and the people I associate myself with.”
One of Reid’s many duties in his current position is reviewing résumés, and he was eager to give advice on what companies like Gannett look for in potential hires as well as reassure students that diversity was another aspect taken into consideration.
“I have four positions in Atlanta right now open for reporters and I’m looking for diverse candidates – Black, Hispanic, Asian – everyone. We have to be representative of our community.”
Reid also imparted what he considered to be the most important things for aspiring journalists to do while working toward their degrees: Getting an internship, being well read, and networking. He also shared several pieces he produced.
“If you’re not shooting your own material, you’re not even a candidate. We’re looking for people who can write, shoot and edit their own material,” Reid said. “If you can write, produce and tell a good story, you’ll always have a job.”
Reid said his passion for Journalism started in his sophomore year at MTSU, when a journalist named Chris Carter spoke to a class he was attending.
“He talked about his work as a journalist and everything just seemed to click,” Reid said. “After listening to Chris I knew that I wanted a future behind the scenes in television.”
The other aphorism Reid repeatedly emphasized was “If you enjoy your work, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
“No matter what degree you are pursuing, be passionate,” Reid said. “Please don’t get frustrated and give up.”
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