Pamela Dembo of CNN/Article 3
Pamela Dembo, one of the producers for CNN Special Projects, is a successful journalist that found her passion for the field rooted in her creativity and curiosity.
She started her career at the current station she is working with now, but only as an intern. After a year of internship she was offered a job in the Special Projects department of CNN. She is currently immersed in a well know project of the CNN Special Projects department called “My City, My Secret”. She interviews, and is escorted around the particular city by, a well-known celebrity or individual of that city who shows different places that are appreciated by the people of the city. These places may or may not be known to those who live in other cities. Pamela Dembo now has aspirations of going from behind the scenes as a producer to in front of the camera as an anchor or field reporter.
Reporter Stephen Jones for JOMC 220 recently got in touch with Ms. Dembo for an interview about her current status as a journalist, what it took for her to reach her goals, and current issues in today’s society.
Stephen Jones: What made you want to become a journalist?
Dembo: “I was very inquisitive as a child. I loved to ask questions and the idea of storytelling. I also loved to watch TV, and wanted very badly to be seen on television. That’s all journalism is if you combine those factors.”
Stephen Jones: When did you decided that journalism was for you
Dembo: “I didn’t become totally interested in journalism until around the time I started to think about college. I was a very creative girl and I still loved to ask questions and learn new things. So I figured this is what I would study.”
Stephen Jones: Where did you attend college?
Dembo: “Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University.”
Stephen Jones: What would you consider as the class that helped you the most in terms of experience in the news field today?
Dembo: “That is really hard to remember. We did have to take a documentary class where we had to come up with ideas to report on, and find people to interview around campus. That was very helpful, especially with the work I do for ‘My City, My Secret’. It was a good experience.”
Stephen Jones: What was your favorite journalism class that you took at Alabama A&M?
Dembo: “This is going to sound weird, but we had to take this class called Voice and Diction and it was the coolest thing ever. All of the students came in with their accents and different dialects from the places they lived, but by the time the class was over you couldn’t tell where anybody was from. We were all speaking alike.”
Stephen Jones: Was there a class you had to take that you disliked at all?
Dembo: “No, not really. I enjoyed all of the classes that I had to take.”
Stephen Jones: How did college best prepare you for your current line of work?
Dembo: “College gave me a great foundation for television terminology. There are many terms that most students will not gain the knowledge of without the class that the journalism curriculum offers in college. It also taught me how to think and see stories and what it would be like to be creative on a daily basis.”
Stephen Jones: Is it difficult for you to have good ideas and new creativity every day?
Dembo: “Yes, it is very challenging. Every day I have to come to work with the new story I have and ask myself how I can make that story compelling. All of the the stories have to be new and fresh.”
Stephen Jones: Where do you plan to be five years from now?
Dembo: “Well I definitely plan on staying in the field of journalism. However, I have two interests inside of the field that I would like to pursue: public relations and do some on air reporting or hosting.”
Stephen Jones: When did you realize you wanted to come from behind the scenes as a producer?
Dembo: “I recently got into on air because I wanted to do something different. For the 16 years that I have been at CNN, I have been doing work behind the scenes and feeding the talent. I am the one who makes the reporter look smart, but in reality, I am the one who does all this research. I’m just tired of giving information to those in the spotlight. I have the skill set, and I practice those skills whenever the opportunity presents itself.”
Stephen Jones: What are your thoughts about the Trayvon Martin case? Do you believe that journalists are covering the event objectively?
Dembo: “Wow. Okay, let me try to cover the whole question without rambling. Very interesting. When I was in school they always told us that journalists don’t have an opinion. I feel that with any story people shouldn’t know how I feel. That being said the media is doing a terrible job. I’m not going to blame it all on them. It has definitely become society driven. Now it is being covered objectively, but at the beginning many reporters were speculating. They wanted to turn it into a race thing because of the circumstance. This is unprecedented. This is a tough story to cover. We went into the story reporting the way we are used to, and we quickly found that the info we received was not accurate. The pictures were old of Trayvon. We did not portray the information the way we should have. There is a lot more to the story than this guy that shot a black kid. It is a complicated, complicated, complicated, story, and there is no simple answer. Like I said, journalists were trying to cover story objectively now as opposed to at first. Because at first, all everyone cared about was being the first one to have the story. It’s not about being the first, it’s about being accurate. We haven’t seen, as far as coverage, a case like this. Weird things have been going on in the two families and the police department. I just read today that NBC fired one of their producers because of incorrect information over this story. The interesting thing is that we didn’t start covering this until a month after it happened.”
Stephen Jones: Wow those are big statements, but I agree with you. Ms. Dembo I would like to thank you for your time.
Dembo: “No problem and thank you.”