Sunday, April 28, 2013



(Princeton, New Jersey)--This just in, former CNN Correspondent Soledad O'Brien has accepted a teaching position at Harvard University.  A Harvard alum, O'Brien will spend the next year at the Ivy League school as a "distinguished visiting fellow."  Harvard announces O'Brien will spend the 2013-2014 year delving into topics related to public education in America.  
Though O'Brien left her daily hosting gig at CNN, she said she would continue to work with the network producing documentaries independently with her own production company.

"Embracing The Possibilities"-Princeton University
Soledad O'Brien is joining a growing elite number of seasoned journalists who are venturing out on their own and creating their own brand. Katie Couric, Anderson Cooper, Regis Philbin, they're all experienced television personalities who are finding a marginal amount of success without the benefit of call letters at the end of their names.  The digital explosion and the world wide web is making it possible to make what may have only been considered a "dream"--reality!

I instantly thought of Soledad as I took advantage of an unexpected opportunity of my own.
While visiting my brother and his family in Mount Laurel, New Jersey I discovered I was only a "stone's throw away" from greatest institution of higher learning-Princeton University.

I was absolutely astonished by Princeton. My first step on the campus literally took my breath away.  Princeton is everything you've heard and more.  It's the stuff dreams are made of for a lot of kids who grew up in inner cities like me.

Though I wasn't born with a "silver spoon" in my mouth, I truly believe I did okay while attending high school and college in Alabama.  But come on, Princeton? Honestly?  For so many years I didn't think my grades, background or culture would every afford me an opportunity to enroll, not to mention visit this great institution.                                

But, perhaps Soledad accepting  her "fellowship" at Harvard gave me the courage to at least explore "the possibilities!" You are only limited by the "limitations you place on yourself!" For the last 3 years built a consulting firm, Walton and Associates solely on what I've experienced and mastered when it comes to deadlines, investigative reporting and covering disasters and catastrophes like tornadoes and the BP Oil spill which paralyzed the Gulf Coast.  

I truly believe if given a chance, everything I've experienced as a producer, reporter, anchor, could be transferred into an actual classroom.  So, why not Princeton, Harvard or Yale for that matter? Never will you find an instructor/visiting fellow with the "drive, fortitude, insight and passion."

Unfortunately more than 50 percent of the instructors in the mass communications departments in  major universities in this country have very little practical experience.  In fact, less than 50% have stepped into an actual newsroom. I'm reminded of an old adage that echoed in my ear as I produced a newscast and two talk shows in Mobile and was bored by the professors at The University of South Alabama-"if you can't do, teach!"              
The April Chill Doesn't Dampen The Dream of " No Limitations"

I have no doubt I could bring the same love and passion that spans nearly two decades in the business into a classroom setting.  Why not a Big 10 or Princeton? Again, my new found belief "no limits!"

I've always dreamed of walking the halls of Princeton as a visiting lecturer, educating the 21st century journalists about an industry that never has two days that are the same. This week that dream literally became one step closer into becoming reality with my visit to Princeton, NJ.  Walking down the corridors of this ancient institution of scholastic achievers I got a real sense of something bigger than myself.

Tour Guides- Mr. Mrs. Ronald Wesley 
I wanted to publicly thank Ronald and Kim
Wesley for planting the seed of a commitment to
excellence.  The same warmth, integrity and accuracy I used to master my skills as a "season, proven" television news reporter could make a difference in "influencing the next generation of 21st century journalists."      
Princeton's a long shot, but then again--"my God is awesome!"  He is capable of doing things exceedingly, over and beyond anything we could imagine.  Today I've discovered a new found  respect and admiration for higher education.  I truly believe in about 10 years I might consider helping students tap into their passion with their chosen careers.

My unexpected opportunity of visiting Princeton University has "renewed, recharged and inspired" me to reach higher heights. Wait until Dr. Cornel West gets a load of me!  I would be considered as unorthodox because I would immediately encourage the students to close the textbooks.

Like being a parent, there's no perfect "manual" on how to become an awesome journalist or storyteller.
For that, you've simply got to experience it all first hand--we're talking practical experience. Get out and write about what you see and above all, tell me why it matters and how it affects "RP's!"  After all, if it doesn't affect "real people," why are we doing it?  Journalism 101!

From Prichard to Princeton?

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