Brooke Fraser is a 2012 graduate of the University of Tennessee’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media. She is also a producer of the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. Fraser started as a page at NBC in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City and she has since found her way from there to working at the Today Show for two years to now being an integral part of the highest rated nightly news program in America. We were able to speak with Brooke about her experiences and get some advice for current students who might want to follow in her footsteps.
What do you do day in and day out at the Nightly News?
“It’s a lot of ‘reactive news’ as to what’s going on in the world. From that, we do anything from gathering all of the elements for a breaking news story, to editing all of the elements for a breaking news story, to interviewing people that are involved in those stories, to experts on those stories, and making sure it’s all good to go for air at 6:30 p.m. each night. I do a lot of Lester’s packages, so my boss is the senior producer. If there’s a breaking news event, we’re usually a part of the team that goes to that event. I went to Paris. I went to Brussels. We did the (presidential) debate.”
What is it like to have to constantly be on call for breaking news?
“I think there’s good and bad. I think you definitely have to love what you do because it does call you to wherever or whatever is happening at any moment. But, it’s kind of like an adrenaline rush. You know? I love it. Being a part of what’s going on in the world. I love being on the scene. So, yeah, I think there’s good and there’s bad.”
What is the coolest thing that you’ve gotten to go do as a part of your current job?
“The Olympics (in Rio) was pretty cool because it was an event that the entire world is a part of and an event that I just watched on television for so many years. So, it was really cool to see everything in person. It was a very surreal experience.”
What from your time in UT’s school of Journalism and Electronic Media helped you to get where you are?
“I think UT did a really good job with teaching you all the different aspects of journalism. I think they also do a really good job of being sure you’re aware that they can teach you a lot but you’re going to get the skills by being at internships and actually doing it. … One of the things that was really helpful was Dr. Swan led a New York journalism trip when I was there. I knew I wanted to live and work in New York, so it was really helpful to meet potential people that I would work for.”
What advice would you give to students who might want to do what you’re doing?
“Perseverance and determination. I didn’t have my father’s sister’s cousin who works at NBC to help me get into the page program. I literally found the email [address] of the lady in charge in a Business Times article from 2001 and that was how I emailed her my cover letter and resume. I think in this industry it’s really all about determination and perseverance and saying ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to make this happen.’”