If there’s anyone who’s got their dream job nailed down it’s broadcast journalist Craig Melvin. The self-confessed “news junkie” happily juggles multiple roles as news anchor for NBC’s TODAY, co-host of the 3rd Hour of TODAY and anchor for MSNBC Live. The trio of jobs allows Melvin to report on breaking news and politics as well as the lighter, more personal side of the news. “I honestly believe that I have one of the best jobs in all of broadcast journalism,” says Melvin.The hardworking, charming broadcaster shares how he broke into TV News (as a teenager!), his morning routine (brace yourself, it starts at 3:45 am), and how he fits quality time with his family (sports journalist Lindsay Czarniak and their two young children) into his busy life.
It was one thing to report on coronavirus from the studio. It was another thing entirely to be in the field and see pop-up hospitals, talk to doctors and nurses on the front lines and spend time with people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”
YOUNG & HUNGRY
I grew up in Columbia, SC, and, when I was a teenager, I got a job as a high school reporter at WIS-TV, the local NBC affiliate. One of my stories won an Associated Press competition and after the awards ceremony, my news director Randy Covington said what a lot of folks say to a lot of people without really meaning it. But he meant it. He said, “If there is anything I can ever do for you, let me know.”
HOOKED ON THE NEWS
I wanted to get into news but they didn’t have a journalism program at my college. I called Randy Covington and asked for a summer job at the station. He hired me as an Associate Producer for the morning news at WIS-TV and that was the summer that I fell in love with reporting. I was hooked!
BECOMING A ONE-MAN BAND
Eventually I landed a job reporting on local stories that we called “Craig Cam” and I was a one-man band for my live shots. I would drive the news truck to locations, run the cable from the truck to the camera, and report. I did it all and that probably helped me in my career more than anything else. I am a firm believer in the 10,000 Hour Rule (The principle that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field). Whether it was a good story, a bad story, or no story, I was forced to learn how to speak extemporaneously on live television on a regular basis. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it, and 18 years later I can tell you I still enjoy is just as much.
MORNING WAKE UP
I’m up at 3:45, in the car by 4:15. It is not for the faint of heart. I don’t care how long you do it, I can tell you based on first-hand experience that the human body is not designed to wake up before 4 a.m. on a regular basis.
FACTS VS. OPINIONS IN THE NEWS
We find ourselves in an environment—and I would contend we’ve been in it long before the current administration—where we can’t agree on a baseline of facts. When people are suspicious of all institutions equally, I would contend nothing good comes from that. Policies, laws and even the future of our body politic—those conversations have to be rooted in fact, but when they’re rooted in opinion, problems arise. The idea that certain news mediums and platforms are treated equally makes it difficult for people to discern what’s true and what’s not.
QUARANTINED AT HOME
I was forced to stay home for almost two full weeks after coming in contact with a staffer who was exposed to Covid-19. It was early on when we didn’t know as much about the virus and its exposure, so I was a bit nervous not knowing if I had been exposed directly and might get sick or expose my family. Fortunately, none of that happened, but the personal experience did help inform my reporting when I went back to work. I found myself on the frontlines talking to doctors and nurses and policy makers about the best ways to move forward.
THE TODAY FAMILY
I didn’t have sisters growing up but since I got the TODAY job I’ve inherited two of them in Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. I also inherited an older brother that I didn’t know I needed in Al Roker. The chemistry and love on the show is real and we have a great time. It’s really special when you discover these people are the same off camera as they are on camera.
QUALITY FAMILY TIME
Carson Daly told me that it’s about quality not quantity. If you can get to a place where you can accept the fact that you’re going to miss an occasional soccer match or dance recital, but decide that when you are there you are focused, put your phone away, laugh and dance and make lots of cool memories. If you can commit to that, then you won’t feel as crappy about the quantity.
LIVING THE DREAM
I honestly believe that I have one of the best jobs in all of broadcast journalism. Interviewing childhood idols, newsmakers, people on the frontlines of the pandemic, presidents, senators, authors and also being able to promote causes near and dear to my heart. It has not been lost on me that I am richly blessed professionally.