Recent Graduate Ann Colwell Views the World
through CNN’s lens
Ann Colwell is sitting in her apartment, staring at her phone. Today is her day off but at any given moment, she might be summoned to the offices of CNN to edit video, transcribe interviews or just replace the batteries in an anchor’s microphone.
This is a common scenario for Colwell as of late.
Colwell (B.A. 2009) works for CNN International, located at the news organization’s world headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. Colwell started as an intern for CNN International Special Projects in January 2009, doing what she called “a lot of brunt work,” which included conducting and transcribing interviews, researching pitches, helping with video shoots and writing blurbs and sidebars for the Web.
A favorite project Colwell helped produce was a video feature about CNN photographer Margaret Moth, who was shot by a sniper in Sarajevo in 1992.
Currently a full-time video journalist, Colwell regularly puts in 50 hours a week. Her duties now run the gamut of technical tasks – running teleprompters, gathering equipment for studios, sending stock footage to CNN offices in other cities, assisting guests and anchors and occasionally bumping into CNN personalities Christiane Amanpour and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
“We have a lot of resources here that other news organizations don’t have,” Colwell, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, said. “We have people here from all over the world speaking so many different languages and telling so many different stories. I like being around so much tenacity and creativity in the newsroom.”
Colwell – who also majored in Spanish – secured her internship during the Fall 2008 semester while still attending The University of Iowa. UI alum Wayne Drash (M.A. 1995), a senior producer for cnn.com, visited her narrative journalism class taught by Professor Stephen Bloom.
Drash offered his business card to the class, and Colwell said she was the only student to follow up. She insisted, however, that getting an internship at CNN was not easy.
The “long process” Colwell went through involved endless phone calls and e-mails with numerous CNN staff members. At one point she was told she would intern at the International Desk, but later found out it was a recruiter error and had to start over.
The recruiter eventually got Colwell an interview with the Special Projects manager, who put her in touch with yet another producer who finally offered Colwell the internship.
“I worked overtime to get everything squared away,” Colwell said, “but I’m absolutely glad that I did.”
Before she even received her degree, Colwell moved to Atlanta to begin interning. On the last day of her internship, she interviewed with the video journalist hiring manager and was offered a full-time job less than a week later.
Colwell came back to the UI in the summer of 2009 to finish up her few remaining credits then immediately headed back to Atlanta, starting her job just two days after her summer classes ended.
Although she did not study broadcast writing while at the UI, Colwell said that does not hold her back at CNN. She is currently taking a broadcast class where she is learning the ins and outs of writing for television and the Web.
Working her way up to CNN’s International Desk, where she has received a large portion of training, is Colwell’s goal. The opportunity for advancement – plus her devotion to staying informed about world events – are what keep Colwell motivated.
“The president of CNN started out as a video journalist,” she said. “I don’t really want to be on TV, but I like knowing that I help with what is on TV, and that I inform others about the world.”