Anne Riddell, President NY Press Club, NBC Education Correspondent
in Career Choice:
From grade school forward, I loved to write. I vividly remember
re-writing a favorite book for the stage in 5th grade. I then
directed it and gave myself a leading role. That early passion
led to my interest in journalism. Both my parents were very supportive,
encouraging me to attend graduate school and do as many internships
as I could. That real-world experience was instrumental because
once I started working in television, I knew it was the course
I wanted to take permanently.
Point: A defining moment for me occurred while I was working
as an intern in the investigative unit at a local Chicago television
station. The reporter asked me to do some undercover work as part
of a story on a company allegedly taking advantage of aspiring
young actors. I found the work incredibly rewarding and really
began to see how good journalism can impact peopleís lives.
I am very proud of the work Iíve done here at WNBC. I cover education
and as a result have had the opportunity to do some very significant
stories that have had a direct effect on children. For example,
we chronicled the horrible conditions at a Bronx school, spurring
officials to get desperately-needed repairs done. We also documented
schools throwing out large amounts of edible food from school
lunch programs. That series led to a food donation program at
the Board of Education. Iím currently serving my second term as
president of the New York Press Club. The club has been at the
forefront of freedom of the press battles, as well as providing
a forum for journalists across the city to come together. I recently
started a project that brings volunteers from the press corps
into the public schools. Iím very proud of the work the club has
done and itís been a great honor to serve as its leader.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle Iíve encountered was also my first.
When I first decided on this career path, I was told countless
times how difficult it would be, how few people actually succeed
ó the odds seemed daunting. I overcame that by simply ignoring
those who discouraged me and listening intently to those who offered
more constructive advice.
One of my mentors was the investigative reporter Pam Zekman in
Chicago. She was a true inspiration to me as a journalist Ė aggressive,
relentless and fair. I also learned a great deal from my first
employer Ed Planer Ė-a well-known former NBC executive. He was
the first person to really help me learn to craft a story. Each
time he criticized my work, he also offered a suggestion to improve
it. Thatís a quality I greatly appreciate and look for in myself
Donít listen to those who tell you what you dream of is impossible,
set high goals and be your own worst critic when you donít meet
them. I also think it is extremely important to find a mentor
Ė someone who will guide you through the pitfalls and encourage
you to move past them. What I learned from my mentors was more
valuable than anything I learned in school. Finally, as a woman,
donít believe career and family are mutually exclusive. It can
work, if you make it work Ė as I am now learning with my nine
month old son!
Professionally, I hope to be the best journalist I can be. I would
like to spend as much time as possible on the kinds of stories
that change lives and policy. On a personal level, having a child
has made those goals even more real to me. Iíve learned that universal
lesson of motherhoodówe want to improve the world for the sake
of our children.#
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