This week’s hustle spotlight is turned towards Laura Dolan, Supervising Producer at CNN. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, we thought she would be the perfect person to discuss motivation, relevancy and drive.
What is your title and how long have you been working at your current position?
I am a Supervising Producer at CNN. I’ve been at CNN for just over 20 years. I started at an entry level position and rose those the ranks. I’ve had this title for about 4 years.
When did you realize you had a passion for the news?
News was a part of my childhood. My father read two newspapers a day and watched the local and network news every evening. We had quite a few animated discussions at the dinner table about everything from politics to civil rights. So, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t passionate about news.
How do you stay ahead of the curve in your industry?
I’m always reading. I use social media, not just to get ideas, but to get news out. I’m constantly asking people about their lives and what they think of what’s going on in the world…. and then I listen closely to what they have to say.
It’s also important to understand the new ways people obtain information. My goal is to reach as many people with whatever story I’m covering, so it’s important to know how they are getting that news.
What kind of pitches do you hope for when looking for new material to cover?
For this I would say KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. I get a lot of fluff pitches… like asking me to cover the latest massage techniques. I usually delete those without reading them.I look for stories that are original, or can help people…..or something that bounces off of a major story the network is covering.
I spend the majority of my time covering politics, natural disasters, and big events (good or bad). So the bar is high for me to cover anything other than those types of stories.
Who inspires you?
I’ve always admired Meredith Vieira.. She was a rising journalist – a correspondent for 60 Minutes – when she decided to take a step back and spend more time with her family and young children. It was a risk, but she did it with the right attitude and became even more successful on her own terms. That’s not an easy decision, especially for a woman and mother.
Now that being said, she also had the financial means to make that decision. Most working women do not have a choice but to work full-time. I admire all women who do their best to support their families.
In ten years, where do you see yourself?
On a beach with a strong Cosmo in my hand! Seriously, most of the time I’m so busy staying on top of my family’s needs and my jobs’ needs that I don’t even think about where I’m going to be ten days from now.
In ten years, I hope to still be a journalist… but as a manager, mentoring the next generation of journalists to stand strong and keep reporting the facts despite any pressure from outside influences.
If you could teach a younger version of yourself one thing, what would it be?
You know, I came from an upbringing that if you followed the rules and worked hard, you’d get ahead.
That is true.
But…. what I also learned is that you need to go after opportunities. Don’t wait for them to be handed to you. It doesn’t work that way.
I used to think, “Oh, that person has been here longer than me. They deserve the next promotion or next big story.” It took me a long time to realize that I don’t have to wait for “my turn.” Now I try to put myself in position to go after the next opportunity or the next story. I think that’s true about life as well. Don’t wait!