Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Refresh, Reinvent, Recharge: Lisa Campbell

Editor's note: I am starting a series of interviews with NABJ members who have done 1, 2 or all three of this year's conference theme. I "met" Lisa Campbell via Facebook when she was doing work for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and I was still covering the airport beat. We continued to keep in touch, and I have been inspired by her personal and professional wisdom. Below is my interview with her on career change.

Why did you originally decide to become a journalist?

I was actually studying Psychology in college (Southern University BR) and went to the local radio station with a friend who'd won an "album" (remember those?). The staff there struck up a conversation with us and the Program Director commented to me that "we're looking for a News Person and you have a great voice".
I went to my apartment that night, watched Peter Jennings broadcast and recorded it on a cassette player (remember those?). I re-wrote the newscast, recorded it on a cassette (lol) and took it to the radio station the next morning. I was given the Morning News Anchor/Co-Host gig almost on the spot, switched my major to Mass Communications with a minor in PR, and the rest, as they say is herstory.

Give me a 1-2 graf summary of your journalism career.

Wow. It's a long a storied one. Started in radio and have done almost EVERYTHING ELSE in the business. I've reported (radio/tv), anchored (radio/tv), been a News Director, Executive Producer for Television, Assignment Editor (both). I've worked in network news (CNN/WCNN, Alanta), ABC, NBC - owned my own Public Relations Agency. All from picking up Gabrielle's album in 1982 at WXOK. Who knew!!

What project/product are you most proud of in your journalism career?

Oh, there are many! I will tell you that the ones that left the largest impressions were my coverage of 9/11 (market: Atlanta), the Space Shuttle explosion (market: BR, LA), and the Bombing at Centennial Olympic Park (market: Atlanta). These were BIG stories that made an indelible mark in my memory. Many of them have.
I'll never forget where I was when I heard about the bombing during the Olympics (1996). I'd had dinner with a friend and we were lingering after Olympic pin trading at Sean Combs (Puffy's) restaurant Justins on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. At around midnight, I noticed above the revelry in the place that an emergency situation had occurred at the park. I asked the bartender to turn up the sound, and then the entire restaurant began to watch in horror. I jolted out to run to our station and began all night broadcasting of the events that followed. The entire staff intuitively followed suit. We were an INCREDIBLE team at WSB. Excellence in broadcasting is not a superlative.

When and why did you decide to leave the business?

I decided to leave traditional media in 2007. I've always been an entrepreneur at heart, but for my entire 24 year career have worked non-stop in radio/tv. I'd longed for many years to run my own Media Consulting agency -- and so one morning nearly two years ago, finally got the courage to resign and "Just Do It". Haven't looked back.

What are you doing now?

I am a docuMEDIA film producer, Media Consultant and Marketing Technologist. I consult businesses and individuals on unique 21st Century ways to market and expose themselves, their businesses and services.
I also own a Personal Development Consortium called The Create Yourself Company that helps people find their "purpose and passion" to re:Create their lives. It's working for many! Very proud of it. (And you can check her out here.)

What do you find satisfying about your current career direction?
That I am helping and inspiring people to live authentic lives. MOST folks 'dream' of working for themselves but never do it because of perceived 'job security'. As we've learned lately in corporate environments, no such animal exists. Security only exists when you work for yourSELF. Think about it. When you sign a contract with an employer, you will never make any more than THAT number. When you work for yourself, the is no limit, other than those that you put on yourself.

What advice would you give for those considering what you've done?
Make a decision on what it is that makes your HEART sing, and do that! All of us have an inherent purpose for being alive. Decide what yours is - and do THAT. Nobody can do it better than you.

How do you think NABJ could help people who have chosen your career path?

Well, I found that many people considering getting into "journalism and broadcasting" saw it as a glamour career. Big mistake.
I would prepare those entering the business for the "truth". Listenership and Viewership is down greatly in Radio and TV and big time in the Newspaper industry because of this new 2-ton gorilla in the room, the INTERNET. We now get News, information, and weather on our cellphones and laptops. Instantly. Don't have to wait for the 6 O'Clock news. I'd encourage people to look at the vast landscape of the "new information age" and find and define your authentic place.

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