Subscribe to our RSS Feed

JCSU alumni, journalists on the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic

Charlotte, N.C. / April 2, 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic is changing our everyday lives; including the way we work. Medical professionals, truck drivers and grocery store employees are among some of the professionals deemed essential and continuing to work daily. Also included in that group, journalists. 

From TV to social media, it’s hard not to notice the number of news professionals working around the clock to keep us informed about COVID-19. Here in the Carolinas, a few of those essential professionals are Golden Bulls.

Craig Cannon ‘16
Craig Cannon ‘16
Photo courtesy Craig Cannon ‘16
The challenges of the pandemic have forced changes to the workflow of some of our alumni, including Craig Cannon ‘16. The WCNC Charlotte news producer, said, “I miss the human interaction with my coworkers.”

Cannon, who graduated as a communication arts major from JCSU, is now working from home to produce the 4 p.m. newscast for his station. His obligation as a producer, in which he provides facts to the Charlotte community, has not changed. 

“Producing from a tiny laptop in comparison to a big desktop work station slows down the process a lot, but the show must go on.”

Like many essential professionals, working through this crisis has been stressful, but it’s Cannon’s passion for storytelling that continues to fuel him.

“There’s something special about informing a community the relies heavily on the balanced truth,” he explained.

Carl McLean ’05
Carl McLean ’05
Photo courtesy of Carl McLean
Carl McLean ’05, Senior TV News Photographer/Editor/SAT Engineer at WSOC-TV Charlotte, is dealing with the same challenges brought on by COVID-19.

“We no longer have the normal resources of the newsroom to depend on,” McLean said. “Most of our interviews are via Skype and FaceTime to ensure the social distancing standard,” the Emmy Award-winning photographer added.

Like Cannon, his station has taken the necessary precautions to keep him safe by asking him to work remotely. In addition, each day McLean is partnered with the same reporter so he’s not spreading germs and carries essential products (gloves, sanitizer, masks).

Despite a career as a TV photographer, that spans more than three decades covering major crises such as natural disasters, active shooter situations and riots, this experience is unlike any other McLean has dealt with.

“Coronavirus is not a story any journalist picked to cover. It picked us,” McLean explained.

Kimberlei Davis ’03
Kimberlei Davis ’03
Photo courtesy of Kimberlei Davis
Kimberlei Davis ’03 is a digital news anchor and director for the ABC affiliate (WOLO-TV) in nearby Columbia, South Carolina. With all of her content disseminated online, she felt prepared for this pandemic.

“Thankfully, I recognized the shift that would occur in how journalists would disseminate and viewers would consume information years ago so I made sure to take advantage of professional development for times like this,” she said.

Now more than ever, she is utilizing all her skills, especially ones learned from mentors and professors as a communication arts major at JCSU. 

“I sense their critique when making a decision related to my role as a storyteller,” she explained. 

All three journalists are thriving under the daily pressures, critiques and challenges presented by COVID-19 while making sure to take care of themselves.

“Staying six feet or more away from others when running to the grocery store is something I keep at the forefront to make sure I’m doing my part to help flatten the curve,” Cannon added.

McLean has even rigged a telescope pole with his wireless microphone to ensure that essential in-person interviews are done with at least 6 feet distance.

They hope their efforts to provide facts, especially during COVID-19, inspire aspiring journalists, especially ones attending JCSU.

“It is scary to cover something that could make me very sick or God forbid kill me,” McLean added. “But as journalists, that’s our job.”

Return to Latest News