In the fall of 2017, Ali Reid ’18 reported on the Emmy Awards through WEBN—a surreal experience for an undergrad who had always gravitated toward entertainment journalism. Little did she know, in four years’ time, she would be winning an Emmy herself.
This fall, Reid won her first Emmy for post-election reporting with WFMZ, an independent television station based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She shares the award with her small and skilled reporting team, who covered breaking election news in three different areas, and had to move quickly to keep each other and their audience up to date. Their coverage won in the Newscast-Morning-Smaller Markets category of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Emmy Awards—a milestone on a path that began 20 years ago.
A Broadcast Journalism major from New Jersey, Reid knew she wanted to be a reporter since she was 5 years old. She experimented with middle school and high school journalism programs, and picked up the pace at Emerson, tallying 10 internships by graduation.
“Emerson led me to really understand why I love Broadcast Journalism,” Reid said of her college experience. “Every single professor I had throughout the four years that I was there really prepared me for the real world.”
Having 10 internships and participating in Emerson’s LA and DC programs allowed Reid to gain valuable connections and experience in her budding broadcasting career. While her time in LA was valuable, Reid’s favorite semester at Emerson was the one spent in the nation’s capitol through the Washington Program, where she interned for DCW 50.
“I got to be there at the height of the 2016 election,” she said. “Being in Washington, DC during that time was an incredible learning experience. I think the really cool thing about the whole program is that you get to meet people outside of Emerson and really get to interact with people from colleges all over the United States and all over the world.”
Her list of internships also included positions at WGBH in Boston, the CW network in DC, and even Inside Edition in New York City. These positions, as well as her experiences in the Emerson classrooms, allowed her to better understand all aspects of production.
“If I hadn’t done these things, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to be behind the scenes in production, or what the photographer has to go through on a day-to-day basis,” she said.
After graduating from Emerson, Reid moved to Peoria, Illinois to work at WMBD news. Although she had favored entertainment journalism, she heeded advice from her mentor, Inside Edition’s Deborah Norville, who told her: “You’re a reporter first, and you’re a ‘[fill in the] blank’ reporter second.” Norville instructed her to first learn the basics of journalism and then choose a focus.
“The nice thing about being a morning reporter,” she says of that new focus, “is there are some days you are having to go out and report on the hard breaking news and other days where you get to do the fun feature stories.”
In 2019, with a move closer to home, Reid followed the morning reporter route to WFMZ in time for Emmy-winning election coverage. As part of that effort, Reid covered election news in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley while team members reported from Wilmington, Delaware and Washington, DC.
“We really came together to deliver a show that told the facts,” Reid says. “We were constantly updating throughout the morning with new information that may have come through different polling results: different parts of counties where ballots were coming in or being counted, and certain counties [that] may have gone from blue to red. So what was so crazy about that show was that it was just constant movement.”
She credits the outstanding coverage to a joint effort. In addition to the reporters on the front lines, a lot of work was done behind the scenes to switch from reporter to reporter, to make graphics, and to make sure everything was running smoothly.
As she takes stock of everything that led up to this point in her career, Reid encourages current broadcasting students to take advantage of the Journalism department’s resources.
“Step up to the plate and really take control of your future,” she says. “Listen to what professors have to say. At the end of the day, every single one of them has had real world experience. Work harder than the next and be grateful for where you’re at, because Emerson is preparing you for the future.”