Haney, this year’s Student Media Board banquet keynote speaker, has always relied on her inquiring mind to find her life's passion.
If you asked Addie Haney ’14 if she knew what she wanted to do with her professional life as a first year at Elon, she’d quickly respond with a carefree “no” and a shoulder shrug.
Haney, who will offer the keynote address during Elon’s Student Media Board banquet at 5 p.m. May 11, wasn’t like some of her peers, who seemingly knew what they wanted to do since before they could repeat the alphabet. She never had a 10-year plan, let alone a five-year one, and she was perfectly OK with that. Instead, she had a passion to do what she does best: be curious.
And so, when she stepped foot on Elon’s campus back in 2009, that’s exactly what she did. Thanks to her involvement in the drama program in high school, Haney quickly got involved with what would later become one of her minors, Theatre Arts. Her other minor, International Studies, was influenced purely by her interest in geography and geopolitical studies, which later led her to Istanbul, Turkey, for a semester abroad. She even joined Elon’s Finest Dance Team, threw a few design courses into her already-assorted schedule, and became a member of FreshTV—for no other reason other than to feed her curiosity.
“I took graphic design courses, knowing that I wouldn’t ever probably be a graphic designer, but I did it because I could,” she said. “I did video production courses, not really knowing that I would be in video production, in a newsroom, but I did it because I could.”
“If you have an inkling of an interest, go for it. This is the time of your life when you have all of these resources at your fingertips and it’s really to your advantage to take advantage of them,” Haney said.
If you have an inkling of an interest, go for it. This is the time of your life when you have all of these resources at your fingertips and it’s really to your advantage to take advantage of them.
— Addie Haney ’14
After “testing the waters,” as she likes to call it, Haney eventually declared a major in journalism with a focus on broadcast news, thanks to a friend’s invitation to attend a “Phoenix 14 News” meeting and her curiosity to follow through with it. It was through Phoenix 14, which is now called “Elon Local News, that Haney, now a digital executive producer at WFAA in Dallas, “learned the core of my skills,” from the making of a newscast to the backend of managing a website.
“Eventually and ultimately, I chose to kind of stick with that broadcast journalism because I think it just allows this kind of creativity that I think really spoke to me,” Haney said. “Every day is different. You’re never gonna get the same thing, so you never get bored of being in journalism [and] in the newsroom.”
To this day, the Emmy-winning producer and journalist has yet to get bored. She began her professional career as a digital producer at 11Alive in Atlanta, her hometown station she grew up watching. After climbing the ladder to senior digital producer there, Haney moved on to WFAA — a job she began just a few short weeks ago — where she oversees and coordinates the digital team’s daily production of stories.
Considering Haney’s success now, it’s hard to imagine that Haney was ever unsure of her path. But there were challenges along the way that made her question whether a career in journalism was worth pursuing.
“Journalism can be grueling and it can be a very demanding career,” she said “At times I’m like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ It really takes a toll on you mentally.”
But Haney can get past that because she knows her work is valued, she’s making a difference, and she’s telling a story that needs to be told — like the one about the SWAT standoff in a southern metro county near Atlanta in September that won her the Emmy.
“I remember a phrase from Associate Professor Rich Landesberg,” she said. “He always would tell us, ‘Don’t do work for the awards, but always do award-winning work,’ and I think that has kind of just stuck with me. At the end of the day, I remind myself that I really feel fulfilled when I can make a difference.”
Though it wasn’t on her radar the second she stepped foot on campus, let alone before freshman year began, student media became a constant in Haney’s undergraduate career, as well as something she credits for the professional foundation it laid in her postgraduate one.
“Student media really gave me the foundation,” she said. “It laid the groundwork for me to be a really strong writer, to have those technical skills, but also to be curious. I think when I did take those first couple of weeks to pop around from place to place and just kind of test the waters — that’s really what being involved in student media is really about.
“If you have an inkling of an interest, go for it. This is the time of your life when you have all of these resources at your fingertips and it’s really to your advantage to take advantage of them. It’s a place where you can explore, and you can find your niche,” she said.