To launch the 2012-13 Lyceum Series, NCCU welcomed CNN anchor and author Don Lemon on Sept. 17. Here is a bit of what Lemon had to say.
What are three skills every broadcast journalist should have?
“Speak proper English,” said Lemon. “Slang does not work in the workplace.” Budding journalists also need to know how to write, because, as Lemon put it, “pretty won’t cut it.” “I encourage students to take a class that will allow them to listen to their voice. You need to know how you sound.”
Personal presentation is also key, Lemon said. “Every time you leave your house, people judge you. You must be well-groomed, and the image that you leave must be positive.”
Lemon started his career in broadcast journalism at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia as a weekend anchor and general assignment reporter. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for his coverage of the capture of the D.C. snipers and an Emmy for a special report on real estate in the Chicago region.
What led you to journalism?
“When I was growing up, black role models on television were poor; there was Good Times and JJ Evans. The only person on television who looked like my family was Julia.” The 1968 sitcom starred Diahann Carroll as a widowed single mother and nurse. “At a young age I liked to go around and ask people questions. My first entree into broadcasting I received overwhelming acceptance. I wasn’t a huge Will Smith-type celebrity, but I was like your big brother, someone you looked up to. That made me more confident and I started to ask stronger questions.”
Lemon made news last year with the release of his book “Transparent,” in which he talks about his life and sexuality, revealing that he is gay. By coming out, Lemon becomes one of a small number of openly gay anchors on television.
“I know the impact that I already have as a minority in the media,” said Lemon. “I’m at the top of my profession and I make a difference. That’s why I strive for truth. I’m not partisan, I am a journalist.”