2001 grad Ryan on the job at CNN


Elon communications grad Stephen Ryan took the quick route to a major network after he finished his coursework at Elon in 2001. He got his start, as many broadcast majors do, in a small market - Wilmington, N.C. - and his youth combined with experience have now landed him in a position at CNN Headline News only a few months later.

Ryan recently took the time to share the background on his rapid rise to one of the world's best-known news networks.

Immediately after his graduation from Elon, he took some time off and put together a resume tape of stand-ups, packages and other clips. "It was the combination of that tape, my numerous internships, and undoubtedly everything I learned from Elon's School of Communications that landed me my first job at WECT News 6 in Wilmington, North Carolina," he said.

While at Elon, Ryan had the opportunity to complete the following internship or part-time work experiences: WSB-Channel 2 Action News (Atlanta); NBC News (Democratic Convention, Chicago); Associated Press Television (1996 Olympics, Atlanta); The Vinings Gazette (Atlanta); WXIA-11 Alive News (Atlanta).

He started as a general assignment reporter in 2001 at his first full-time broadcast job, enterprising and writing several VO's, VO/SOT's and a package each day. Photographers shot and edited them. He either went live from the newsroom or live from the field depending on how visual the story was.

Because Ryan has been interested in police work all his life, he began to cover crime for WCET. "I love crime reporting," he said. "I really concentrate on working contacts. Without a good, trusting relationship with contacts, a crime reporter is dead in the water."

Ryan had a taste of reporting, and now he wanted to try anchor work. He left Wilmington and returned to Atlanta to cut a new resume tape complete with live and newsroom shots and began to job hunt.

"While I worked on moving up in market size to weekend anchoring, I wanted to keep working in the news business," he said. "That search can take months."

Being from Atlanta - where CNN is based - had its advantages. "One of the people I know at CNN opened the door for me to interview at CNN Headline News for some freelance work," he recalled. "I went on two interviews, one with the president of Headline News. On my third visit a senior manager told me, 'Well Stephen, there has been a change of plans. We don't want to offer you any freelance work ...We would like to offer you a full-time position. What do you say?'" The answer was a resounding "Yes!"

Ryan is doing fill-in work on weekends, Mondays and Tuesdays between 1 a.m. and 11 a.m. right now at the same time as he is being groomed for his primary role at CNN Headline News. He is rarely seen on the air right now - just subbing for people when they are out. He is in full-time training, spending three months focused on writing, concentrated voice training and detail work on his on-air presence.

"Since I am so young, 24, I am being trained over a long period to hone my on-air presence to what Headline News needs," he explained.

"Young and moldable is what they want. Fox News has a new slogan: Younger, Smarter, Faster. CNN Headline News is trying to compete with Fox full force. Right now, Headlines' average viewer is a male midwesterner, age 18-49. They are trying to reduce that to18-42. Managers would like to do that by the time Headline News goes live 24 hours a day within the next year. Right now Headline News is partially digitized. That is why even in a budget crunch they are hiring and training new staff extensively. Headlines' style is young, quick, conversational and to-the-point news."

He was hired to work on CNN Quikcast, a webcast that focuses briefly on the day's top stories. The date at which he'll start routinely doing the Quikcasts is tentative at this point. Within the next year, CNN is expected to incorporate the Quikcasts into the top of each of its television newscasts.

Both of Ryan's parents are in the news business, and he says they have been role models for him. His mother, Donna Mastrangelo, is senior executive producer/vice president for CNN-Espanol, and his father, Charles, is a senior executive field producer for NBC News. He's been working part-time, working internships and/or studying and working full-time in broadcasting since he was a teen-ager.

"CNN is a great place with huge opportunities," he said. "If you read the anchor/correspondent biographies, you'll notice many of them started low on the CNN totem pole and progressed to where they are now. Who knows what will come next for me? Maybe CNN International. But I don't want to jump the gun. I am really happy with my new job.

"I love being on camera telling people what is important and what might affect them. It's a great feeling knowing that I help people get educated on current, world events."



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Last Modified:  1/7/03
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