Local journalist and news reporter Debra Morgan of WRAL News in Raleigh sat down with The Herald to discuss her college experience, her involvement in the broadcast journalism field and her learned wisdom.
Morgan is originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She graduated with an undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Miami, a small school with only 1,300 students, including graduate students.
Throughout her college career, Morgan’s favorite thing to do was be a part of her school newspaper, working tirelessly on writing a variety of articles. Eventually, during her senior year, she became the Editor-in-Chief of the Miami Hurricane.
Even before entering college, Morgan knew she wanted to have a career in broadcast journalism. She remembers always being very curious as a child and investigating different things. She recalls, “One day I was with my mom, driving somewhere, and out the window I saw a big cloud of smoke. Immediately, I asked my mom to go towards the smoke to investigate what [was] going on.”
Morgan has been working in the news industry since 1988. Before coming to WRAL in 1993, she worked as a reporter in both Toledo, Ohio, and Jacksonville, Florida. For her, a typical day at WRAL is “getting to the station at 2:30 p.m. and constantly reading, writing and investigating news in preparation for anchoring the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.” Her goal is to gather as much information as possible and deliver it to viewers in a way that is both “understandable and captivating.” She is also very open with expressing her emotions while delivering the news. “If I report a sad story, I will not try to hide my emotions on camera, you might see me cry. [Similarly], if I report a happy or heartwarming story like soldiers coming home to their families, I will show excitement and joy,” she explains. She knows that showing her true emotions allows viewers to connect better with what is being reported.
When asked about what her most memorable assignment was, she says, “Well, there are just so many. Sports wise, I covered the Super Bowl and the Stanley Cup finals when the [Carolina] Hurricanes won. I also got to interview former President Barack Obama while in the White House.” For her, the most surreal assignment was when she traveled to Los Angeles to report on Scotty McCreery winning American Idol. She remembers being surrounded by reporters from Los Angeles and seeing Scotty McCreery come down the stage and walk past all the other reporters so he could speak with her first since she was from his home state of North Carolina. She states that she “was very close with Scotty McCreery’s family.”
Debra Morgan loves to speak with individuals who are interested in broadcast journalism. She advises everyone interested in that route to get involved with their school newspaper and always “explore new things that you might not know about and take classes in a wide variety of subjects.”
By Rania Abushakra, Contributing Writer