With A Staff Of 200, Camille Edwards, VP At ABC News, Has Got The Tri-State Area Covered
It was only after talking with her for about 20 minutes that I took notice of the Emmy awards (three of them) resting in the corner of Camille Edwards’ office. Overlooking New York City’s Lincoln Center, sharing a huge space decorated with TVs on the wall, gadgets pinging with the sound of messages landing in an inbox, and a pile or two of papers-and-things here and there, the shiny gold awards are on the window ledge with a row of family photos.
Edwards manages a staff of 200 people who cover the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) for WABC-TV. She describes her job as being a mentor, coach and one who “sets the tone” for the newsroom, providing both positive and negative feedback. Technically, her title is VP, News Director. She also, of course, plays a big role in making sure that the team is covering the stories that need covering in a way that’s “fair and impartial,” to use her words.
But Edwards also has a business mandate. “I’m managing a budget and expenses, contributing to the station in a way that’s productive,” she said. And that productivity also includes creating a product that’s appealing to advertisers.
“We’re going to do a story no matter the cost,” Edwards added. But when there are budgetary concerns, she has to handle that behind the scenes.
“I am very happy working at this station. Every day is a challenging day,” Edwards said. “Who knows what’s next, but I’m glad to be here.”
Edwards got her start at the University of Michigan, studying English and communications, then working as a desk assistant in Detroit. After that, it was on to Toledo where she was a reporter, producer and assignment editor all rolled into one. Knowing that she didn’t like being in front of the camera, she wound her way up a steady climb through the media ranks, city by city: Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, back to Chicago, Washington DC, then New York.
“A lot of people don’t realize the opportunities behind the scenes,” she said. “As far as my journey, I have just been myself.”
Which brings us to an interesting topic when you consider the mainstream media: diversity, both in the newsroom and on the screen. Or the lack thereof.
“I provide a different vantage point and you have to find a company that celebrates that,” she said.
Edwards noted that she’s not had the difficult experiences that she’s heard from others, but that doesn’t negate the fact that organizations have to do more to seek out diverse staffers and give them “a seat at the table.” That means going to college campus, minority organizations, and accessing all of the other pathways to reach viable candidates of all races and backgrounds.
That diversity extends to what is being shown on the screen. A Detroit native and self-professed news junkie, when she was younger, she had a problem with all of the bad news broadcast about African Americans.