CNN’s Reid returns to campus for diversity lecture

CNN Producer and MTSU Alumnus Jeffery Reid in the new Center for Innovation in Media in the Mass Comm Building for the July 2012 MTSU Magazine.

CNN Producer and MTSU Alumnus Jeffery Reid in the new Center for Innovation in Media in the Mass Comm Building for the July 2012 MTSU Magazine.

Veteran broadcast journalist and mass communication alumnus Jeffery Reid (’81) returned to MTSU campus on Feb. 23 to speak to students about his career and media diversity.

With a broadcast career spanning three decades, Reid shared his experience working in the media, from his humble beginnings as an intern at WTVC in Chattanooga, Tenn., to his rise as a senior-level executive news producer at CNN Productions.

Reid’s son, Jeffery Reid Jr., an MTSU sophomore in multimedia journalism and president of the local chapter of National Association of Black Journalists, was on hand to welcome his father to the podium along with Dr. Dwight Brooks, director of the School of Journalism. Brooks introduced Reid to a room of 60 students, faculty and staff, praising the producer’s accomplishments and encouraged students to emulate his example.

“Mr. Reid is not only the epitome of a College of Mass Communication success story, but he is one of those rare media professionals who wants the students who follow him to share and build on his success,” Brooks said. “He is one of our Cornerstone donors, helping make the Center for Innovation in Media possible, and his commitment to shaping young journalists is one of the reasons he is such a valued alum.”

Reid began the lecture by speaking of his rural upbringing on a Chattanooga farm. He came to MTSU in 1977 and was a criminal justice major and a recording industry major before deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps and enlist in the Army.

“I wanted to join the military,” Reid said, “until my mom said, ‘Son, you are not military material.’ ”

He credited a class guest appearance by Nashville news anchor Chris Clark with influencing him to pursue broadcast journalism.

CNN logo“After hearing Chris Clark speak, I knew I wanted a future in television, but behind the scenes,” he said. Reid sent out 100 resumes after graduation and received only one response, from WTVC News Channel 9 Chattanooga. WTVC hired Reid as an intern, and he was grateful for a foot in the door. He worked his way up, becoming a news producer for the local station and later an executive producer for WISH-TV in Indianapolis. In 1993, he was offered the position of executive producer at CNN headquarters in Atlanta. There, he produced “Moneyline News Hour” with Lou Dobbs and covered the controversial 2000 presidential election before being offered the show which Reid says was the “turning point in my career.”

“I was asked by CNN to examine the plight of black people since [the march from] Selma,” Reid recalled.

The result was an award-winning, multi-part series of documentaries called “Black in America,” CNN’s highest-rated documentary series ever with more than 12 million viewers. “Black in America” became the one of the network’s most successful franchises and generated a nationwide dialogue on race. The series, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, garnered multiple award nominations and inspired the social network, an online community for black Americans who want to address the issues and challenges of Black America.

Reid continues to prime race relation dialogue as manager of enterprise content for the Gannett-owned 11Alive WXIA & WATL in Atlanta. With the shooting of Michael Brown and the recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Reid produced “A Conversation Across America,” a documentary that revolves around a town hall discussion and asks the community the question, “Where do we go from here?”

“As journalists, we document history,” Reid said. “A Conversation Across America continues to document important and frank discussions on race in America.”

Reid’s lecture was sponsored by the MTSU College of Mass Communication School of Journalism and the MTSU chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).

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