On Thursday, when CNN announced that Lisa Ling would join the network, I had a little high school flashback.
It’s 1993 or 1994, my sophomore or junior year at Glendale High School in Springfield, Mo., and I’m in my morning English class watching a boxy old TV bolted into the wall near one corner of the classroom. On the screen most mornings were Lisa Ling and Anderson Cooper.
It went something like this:
Shelby Holliday, a current Channel One news correspondent and anchor, has similar memories.
“I actually watched Channel One in middle school,” she told Poynter in an e-mail. “And I felt so proud going home and being able to discuss news with my parents. (All of my friends from sixth grade still remember Lisa Ling!) Ten years later, Channel One was one of the first companies I reached out to about journalism jobs after college. To this day, I’m still amazed by how much I learn from the daily show.”
Channel One aired its pilot in 1989, said CJ Kettler, Channel One’s CEO, in a phone interview. The news program for middle and high school students rolled out in 1990 nationally.
Serena Altschul and Maria Menounos are also among the program’s alums.
“We’ve always been a good training ground for new reporters,” Kettler said.
Reporters now are one-person-bands, researching, shooting and producing on their own or with another team member. Channel One also now distributes across all platforms, Kettler said, and works to offer students watching the program not just the news, but the context and the background of the news.
Two reporters are just back from Rwanda, where they reported on the anniversary of that country’s genocide and on the ivory trade. Holliday has reported from Guantanamo Bay, China, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, the U.K. and Canada, she said.
“I think Channel One accomplishes two incredibly important things,” Holliday said. “It teaches students about news and current events in a way that makes sense to young viewers, and it enhances education by bringing textbooks and lesson plans to life. Instead of just reading about genocide or military juntas, students get to see stories from places like Rwanda and Myanmar. Having watched Channel One as a student, I truly believe the show is a tremendous tool in the classroom.”
It’s been a long time, but I remember Cooper in Bosnia (there are clips!). Watching him look over his shoulder while snipers shot in the background was the first time I learned about, or paid attention to, what was happening in that region.
I asked Holliday what she hopes to do in the future. She said she’d love to keep covering major news with a network.
“But my dream career? I want Anderson Cooper’s job. (Very cliche coming from a Channel One anchor, but it’s the truth.) Hosting a show from New York and broadcasting live around the world is as inspiring as it gets.”