The journalism major traveled to Las Vegas with classmate Naomi Washington ’24 and Associate Professor Rich Landesberg to attend the popular conference for Black and Hispanic journalists and news industry professionals.
As the live broadcast commenced – with the Sin City skyline in the background – Chloe Franklin’s nervousness dissipated as quickly as it had arrived.
During the Elon junior’s first trip to the National Association of Black Journalists/National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NABJ/NAHJ) joint convention, held Aug. 3-7 in Las Vegas, Franklin was invited to appear on “Top Story with Tom Llamas,” a daily primetime streaming program on NBC News NOW.
As part of a live, five-minute segment, the journalism major joined Llamas and NBC anchor Jose Diaz-Balart to offer her perspective as a young, Black multimedia journalist, her predictions on the future of the media industry and how she identifies accurate news sources.
The Aug. 4 clip went semi-viral – at least in Elon circles – with students, faculty and alumni sharing the clip far and wide. Franklin later called the experience “a privilege” on social media, a definite highlight of a trip she found personally and professionally rewarding.
“I started to feel a few nerves about 10 seconds before we went live from the commercial,” Franklin recalled. “Once we were live, the nerves just disappeared. I drew on my experience from Elon News Network, my studies and what I have learned at my internship this summer, and that carried me through.”
Franklin traveled to Las Vegas with classmate Naomi Washington ’24 and Associate Professor Rich Landesberg, joining nearly 5,000 journalists and media professionals at the five-day event. According to NABJ President Dorothy Tucker, the annual convention is country’s largest gathering of Black and Hispanic journalists.
The Vegas trip was just the latest highpoint of a productive summer for the two Elon undergraduates. Franklin landed a news internship this summer with WSOC-TV, a prominent television station in Charlotte, while Washington interned as a production assistant for an NBC News NOW program with Morgan Radford and Vicky Nguyen.
“NABJ was a great networking opportunity but, more importantly, there were so many people in one place I could identify with,” Franklin said. “It showed me, once again, that African American journalists are powerful, valuable, needed and can make it in this industry.”
She added, “One of the most important things I learned at the conference is to be my authentic and genuine self.”
While at the convention, Landesberg helped connect Franklin and Washington with several Elon alumni in attendance. This included Eugene Daniel ’11, an anchor/reporter in Norfolk, Virginia; Katie O’Brien ’12, director of the NBCU News Group Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; and Emmanuel Morgan ’19, a sports reporter with The New York Times. It was O’Brien who linked Franklin with Llamas’ show, which sought out students to interview about the future of the news industry. Later, Franklin participated in a pre-interview with a show producer and was selected to go live.
“Representation is important, and this conference is important,” Landesberg said. “NABJ is an opportunity for these students to see people like themselves, to see their future, and to see the opportunities that await them. It is invaluable for these students – they are some of the brightest and best that we have – to see where they can go professionally and in the news industry.”
Franklin and Washington were both invited to watch the entire “Top Story” show leading up to Franklin’s interview, offering a great behind-the-scenes view of its production.
“One of the most memorable moments was standing at the top of the building, on the set, and being able to see over Las Vegas,” Franklin said. “Knowing I was about to go live for the first time, with NBC, with the Las Vegas skyline in the background was amazing.”
Franklin said she was encouraged by the feedback she received from the NBC News NOW crew, with several individuals noting her ability to naturally converse with Llamas and Diaz-Balart. “The entire experience was memorable and life changing, and I am so grateful for the opportunity,” she said.
Landesberg also noticed the ease with which Franklin interacted with Llamas and Diaz-Balart on a national platform.
“I think it says a lot about Chloe and the students that we produce that they can go live, and toe-to-toe, with two of the best news anchors in our industry,” Landesberg said. “To be comfortable in that setting speaks to the experiences Chloe has had in student media and the reps she’s had in front of the camera. And it wasn’t an easy setting. There was 100-degree heat, standing out in the desert sun, and the lights were bright, but Chloe looked comfortable. She knew what she was doing up there.”
In the hours following the interview, friends, faculty and classmates shared the video clip extensively. The response and interest were flattering, Franklin explained.
“I was overwhelmed, in a great way, by all the support I got from the ElonComm community,” she said. “Several alumni, friends and faculty tweeted about it and were reaching out to tell me how proud they were of me and my performance. It was a nice feeling to see how many people were supporting me and to know that they have confidence in the fact that I will go far in my career as a journalist.”