I am standing, nervously, in the women’s bathroom. In just 20 minutes, the general manager of WCVB-TV will announce that I will be the next executive producer of “Chronicle,” the longest running local newsmagazine show in the country.
Are you ready for this? It’s a question I was asked repeatedly during the interview process. Currently, I am managing editor of “Chronicle.” I started with the show in 2013 as a producer. Previously, I worked in Syracuse, Providence, and New Haven as reporter, anchor, and multimedia journalist (that’s just a fancy way of saying a reporter who shoots and edits all of her own stories).
After four years as a producer at “Chronicle,” I found myself growing more concerned about the future of local television news. While our ratings were strong among viewers 60-plus, they were declining among viewers 25 to 54.
This problem is not unique to my show or my station. Millennials and Gen Z have different viewing habits. They watch shows on demand, listen to podcasts, subscribe to newsletters, and follow TV personalities online. If “Chronicle” is going to attract younger viewers, we have to be everywhere they are.
It is this thinking that led me to Nieman. I spent the 2017-18 academic year taking courses on innovation and journalism, documentaries and social change, and my favorite, “Children and the Media.” I also took management courses, knowing I hoped to move to that area of the business.
Fast forward two years, and here I am, standing in a bathroom, about to become the leader of “Chronicle.” I will be the show’s first new executive producer in decades. As I try to psych myself up, a colleague walks in. “Happy birthday!” she exclaims. My birthday just passed. I turned 37. The same age as “Chronicle.”
Both “Chronicle” and I are children of a time when people rushed home to watch the 6 p.m. news. We both have television journalism know-how, but we are still young enough to adapt.
It is that combination of experience and a desire to innovate that inspired us to increase the show’s reach. This year, we launched, “Chronicle the Podcast,” and a weekly “Chronicle” newsletter that includes videos. We’ve also experimented with pacing, getting into our content faster. Still, we maintain the standards our audience respects and the series they love like Main Streets and Back Roads.
As I stare at myself in the mirror, nervous energy transforms into confidence. I am proud to say I have been instrumental in the evolution of “Chronicle.” Am I ready? Yes, I am. After all, who better to lead a 37-year-old show than another 37-year-old?
As a black woman and a mother to two young children, I know there will be extra attention paid to both my wins and losses. Both I and the show are ready for this next chapter, a time when “Chronicle” and I will further hone our voice and place in this industry.