By: Wendy Dean, West Editor-in-Chief
Wayne Dawson is the co-anchor for Cleveland’s top rated morning show, Fox 8 News in the Morning, and he used to be a student at Tri-C.
Dawson has won 11 Emmy awards and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
As noted on Fox 8’s website, “In 2014 Wayne was inducted into the NATAS Silver Circle and also received the Chuck Heaton Award for the Cleveland Press Club. He was also awarded the William Taylor Alumni award from the Journalism and Mass Communications School of Kent State University.”
I had the opportunity to ask Dawson a few questions about his success as a former Tri-C student.
What made you decide on a career in journalism? I chose journalism as a career because I have always had a love for writing. As a young person, I loved sports, but I wasn’t quite talented enough to play sports at the college level. I decided if I could not play sports, I would pursue a career as a sportswriter and that crystallized my interest in journalism.
What years did you attend Tri-C? I attended Tri-C Metro from the fall of 1974 till the winter of 1975, after which, I transferred to Kent State University. Although, I did not receive an associate degree, I was able to hone my writing skills by working on the student newspaper, having articles published in the campus papers and in the Cleveland Call and Post.
Did you belong to any student clubs while attending Tri-C? If so, which ones? I was not a member of any organizations at Tri-C with the exception of the student newspaper. As a matter of fact, there were two newspapers on campus at that time, and I was able to write for both of them covering the various sports teams including basketball, baseball and track.
What kept you motivated while you were a student? My motivation in college came from the fact that I was a teenage parent. I knew I had to be very decisive about my future because I wanted to provide for my young daughter and her mother. I understood I didn’t have a lot of time to waste, so even though I wasn’t the best high school student, I vowed to be the very best college student that I could be. I gave 110% in everything I did. Because of this, I was determined to be the best journalist I could be. At this point, I was focusing on becoming a print journalist.
What are some of your fondest memories of Tri-C? My fondest memory of Tri- C is covering the basketball games. One of my best friends, Cortez Brown, was the star of the basketball team. Not only did I cover the home games at Tri-C, I also traveled with the team. Those were great times.
What qualities/traits do you believe you gained while attending Tri-C? I always like to say I grew up at Tri-C. Once again, I wasn’t the best student at Shaw High. At Tri-C, I focused, and I became not only a good student but an excellent student. I became motivated, and I began concentrating on my dream to become a journalist. Cuyahoga Community College gave me the confidence I needed to not only succeed at a four-year college, but to eventually move on to a successful career in journalism. My experience at Tri-C also taught me how to study, how to prepare for testing, how to take notes in class and how to be the best student I could be.
Did attending Tri-C better prepare you for a four–year university? If so, how? Tri-C gave me the college mindset. It allowed me to understand what I needed to do to become a successful student at Kent State University. Once again, it gave me the confidence of knowing that I could achieve at that level. Finally, Tri-C gave me the skills to be a good journalist. I learned how to not only write a story but how to cover stories successfully and do it under deadline pressure.
As a side note, even though I started out in a career as a print journalist, when I got to Kent State there were no openings in the student newspaper. Something told me to go to the Broadcast Journalism department to try my hand at announcing, and the rest is history.
What advice would you give to students that want to follow in your footsteps? My advice for students pursuing a career in broadcast journalism is to first of all, find a college where you can gain hands-on experience. Also, learn how to write, shoot video and edit as well as appear on camera. Today, the trend is to hire students who can do it all; we are in the age of the so-called multimedia journalist. Be prepared to work anywhere. Sometimes you have to work in a small market in order to eventually find your dream job. The bottom line is you have to “want it.” You have to want it more than anything else, and you have to visualize yourself achieving your dream.
What is next for Wayne Dawson? Any exciting future plans? As far as my future is concerned, I want to keep growing as a broadcast journalist, but I’m also working on my Master’s Degree in theology. I’m not sure where this is going to lead, but I am excited about this next chapter of my career.
Meanwhile, I keep striving every day to be the best anchorman in the city and to anchor the number one morning newscast in the Cleveland market.