by Alexa Gambero | Copy Editor
As part of the Jan Term Speaker Series, the Women’s and Gender Studies and Communication Departments partnered with the Disney Forum to welcome award-winning CNN executive and documentary filmmaker Geraldine Moriba to the Soda Center on Jan. 22. The lecture related Moriba’s career in the news industry to metamorphoses, as well as the topics of gender and race.
At the root of her discussion was identity, and Moriba identified herself and her line of work in a countdown from 10, listing aspects of her social standing as a wife and mother, special advice she gives her children, and incorporating personal stories involving her education and career.
“It’s my prerogative to be who we are,” Moriba said. “Much of the work I have done related to my career has involved identity.”
Over the decades she has spent in the news media industry, Moriba has faced the exciting challenge of covering the news on the “fast track.” She worked with an overnight bag in her desk in case she had to jet off to a distant location to cover breaking news; she had to re-assimilate herself into her job after taking six weeks of maternity leave; she survived a battle with cancer; she watched the newsroom evolve with the changing American culture; and she explored the less mainstream stories by covering the lives and actions of average people through the CNN documentary series “In America.”
“It’s been a long journey to get where I am. For me, the best and most special stories are about average people,” Moriba admitted. “Sure it’s cool to meet someone who’s doing something significant, but I find that the most special stories are the ones with average Americans.”
Over her journey in the industry, Moriba has gone from her modest start in a Canadian radio station, to an extended career at NBC, and finally to her current job as vice president of diversity and inclusion for CNN Worldwide. Over the past 23 years, she has noticed a significant metamorphosis of the newsroom. According to Moriba, technological advances have changed everything, affecting global research, privacy, and even changing the job description for being a journalist. In addition to technological changes, standards for privacy and neutrality have lessened, and top news corporations, such as CNN, have had to adjust their programming.
“My job is to make sure we are delivering the news in a broader way,” Moriba stated, “No newsroom has consistently given consistent news.”
Working for a news corporation that most critics and audiences consider to be neutral, Moriba has contributed to the channel’s middle-ground perspective. She sees opinion in the news as “the way of the industry,” and the recent trend in reporting that is open to question has led to more panel programming that allows for all stances on the issues to be discussed in a fair and balanced way. Moriba admitted that contrary to popular belief, CNN prides itself on being in the middle of the political spectrum, not for being neutral.
“People tune in for good storytelling,” Moriba said. “CNN series and documentaries are experimentation as a part of a continuum.”
Moriba serves the industry as a determined and driven individual, her gender being an integral component of her identity. As a woman of color, Moriba has had to assert herself in unique ways. Despite social factors and workplace prejudices, Moriba prides herself on transparency and hard work.
“In the newsroom, you’ve got to fight for your stories. When you’re [at meetings], you’re already at the table. Bring your own chair,” Moriba said profoundly.
The final program of the Speaker Series entitled “Thinking about Ovid in the 21st Century: Metamorphosis, Myth, and the Carbon Cycle” by Robert Hass will take place on Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. in the Soda Center.