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New York City
March 2002

Carol Anne Riddell, President NY Press Club, NBC Education Correspondent

Factors 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.

Pivotal 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.

Achievements: 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.

Obstacles: 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.

Mentors: 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 and others.

Advice: 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!

Goals: 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.#


Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2001.