She worked her way from the bottom at the one and only news station in Brunswick, Georgia to rising through the ranks to become one of the most notable African-American female journalists in America. Who is this maverick you ask? Well, it’s December’s Ladybrille Woman of the Month,Jacque Reid!
For the last decade, Jacque Reid has been on the scene as one of the leading black women in American news media. We’ve seen her in so many different settings over the years: in front of the camera on everything from CNN Headline News, to BET Nightly News, to The View, and more recently behind a microphone on The Tom Joyner Morning Show. Reid is slowly but surely making her way to becoming a media juggernaut, but on her own terms. Reid is freelancing, running her own media production business Jacque Reid Media and a new news magazine website http://www.jacquereid.com/– needless to say she isn’t taking “no” for answer anymore. She is making decisions that are sure to guarantee her place in the pantheon of champions of true, quality journalism.
LADYBRILLE.com spoke with her about her journey thus far, the latest in current events and her life not as just a journalist but as a woman. We talked about everything from her beginnings at that small station in Brunswick, Georgia to community service and how proud she is to be a black woman. Meet Jacque Reid!
LADYBRILLE.com: You’ve done so many great things in your career at CNN and BET, but we rarely hear about where you began. You started out in network television, tell us about that?
Jacque Reid: I started out in Brunswick, Georgia. It was a small family-owned station, in a one-station market. I got that job right out of grad school. It was interesting [she laughs]. It’s what you do. You have to pay your dues in this business. That’s where you want to mess up on live shots or not have the writing down. When it comes to writing the stories for news, you want to cut your teeth in a small market. I moved on to Lexington, Kentucky. I really grew a lot in Kentucky and I moved on to Houston, Texas. Houston is where I really became solid as a journalist. I came into my own there, I developed my style. I really honed my interview style.
LADYBRILLE.com: How was that different from cable news once you got to CNN and BET?
Jacque Reid: It was different because it was cable and not local. Although in network you’re producing as a company as a network or a show, but in cable you are producing more news 24 hours a day. News is news, so whether you are doing it for cable or for network, to me, it doesn’t make a difference. At CNN, I was just anchoring whereas at my [prior] jobs I was anchoring and reporting. So, I did not have the experience of still going out on stories, communicating with people, telling their stories. That’s why I ended up leaving CNN for BET. A lot of people are like “why did you leave CNN for BET?”
It was a different experience for me. I was at CNN Headline News – which is a new show every 30 minutes – it was very different. There were robotic cameras, it was a different experience. It wasn’t like being a journalist. It was like being a newsreader and that’s not what I wanted to do. BET came along with this opportunity to do news in conjunction with the granddaddy of them all, CBS. I got to work out of the CBS News building where Dan Rather was still working, where the folks of 60 Minutes – folks like Ed Bradley– were still walking the halls. It paid off. I was on the CBS Early Show. I did a lot of work for CBS when I was there with BET.
LADYBRILLE.com: Though it’s been years, some folks are still curious about why you left BET. Can you shed some light on that?
Jacque Reid: Well they cancelled the show? A new show wasn’t presented to me but I think in fairness to BET, it’s not my network. I think it was time for me to move on. BET had a desire to have a very young-MTV-type network. I’m not in my twenties; I’m not a teenager so it really didn’t make sense for me to stay there. They stopped producing news. There wasn’t a place for me to do news and there wasn’t room for me to do what I do and I didn’t want to end up in the situation that I was in at CNN Headline News where I was just on air [and] not being able to do what I do. . .
LADYBRILLE.com: For this year’s election you were a host and correspondent for TV ONE’s Election coverage this year. Considering that it was such a historic election, what was that experience like for you?
Jacque Reid: I’m still in shock, quite frankly. [I think we all are] It’s just like he said on 60 Minutes, “it hasn’t sunk in” for me yet. I don’t know what it’s going to take to. I don’t know if it’s gonna take inauguration day, seeing him come in and out of the White House. I don’t know what it’s gonna take for it to really sink in for me. I always say you know I am a journalist and I try to remain objective. Throughout the election process I tried to keep my opinions and who I was voting for and my opinions about the candidates to myself. But I’m a Black person, an African-American, first and so I don’t know in this country who could really be an African-American and not be touched by Barack Obama’s victory.
Even if you didn’t vote for him, I don’t know how you cannot look at our history and be moved. Even what Condoleezza Rice had to say the day after the election, or days after the election, was touching because it was heartfelt. You have to acknowledge the enormity of this victory. So for me on election night, unfortunately, when you’re on live television you’re in the middle of it. It was a crazy, chaotic night – which election night always is. When you’re in that moment, once they announced that he won, it was like “Oh whoa! Wait a minute. Okay but we are going to commercial.” [So you have those two minutes to go crazy and come back to center] Yes! For me, that’s how I work. So it really did not even dawn on me until really the next day, when I woke up and I was like “Wow! He Won!” It was an incredible experience and to be able to say years from now where I was and to be part of announcing our first black president was Barack Obama, I am proud.
Interview to be continued. . .