By Kelcey Norris
Before landing a job as a producer at CNN, Lamar Salter’s adventures in journalism began in the newsroom of Youngstown State University’s student newspaper, The Jambar. He started at the weekly publication as a reporter, eventually working his way up to managing editor. After he graduated in 2011 with his degree in journalism, Salter began his career at local broadcast news station WFMJ. This Youngstown native’s roles at the station were as multimedia producer and weekend assignment manager. He was influential in both online and broadcast stories for the television station. Later, he worked for NBC, coding hours of content for “The TODAY Show.” He oversaw production of video content at the Business Insider, with notable stories including coverage of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rise to power.
If you fast forward in Salter’s career, the next stop is in New York at Global Citizen, an advocacy group “of engaged citizens who are using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030.” The platform tells the stories of impoverished nations and those fighting poverty, while also organizing large events to raise awareness. As the senior video producer at Global Citizen for two years, Salter has told the stories of activists like Waleed Khan, who survived a mass shooting. Other stories include the state of California’s huge role in agricultural production in spite of its rising numbers of hungry people every year. I was able to sit down virtually with Salter on a Facebook livestream to discuss his career during the Alumni Engagement series Jan. 14.
What was your favorite story you covered while working at The Jambar?
There’s a lot of stories I covered that range from different topics, like crime and arts and stuff like that. But I realized my favorite story happened when I was managing editor and I was in the office of The Jambar when it was in Fedor Hall. We were trying to figure out how we were going to plan the news and we were pretty light on content. Then these two professors came in with this giant concrete slab which they said was debris from the parking deck near DeBartolo. One of them said, “This fell on my car and I don’t know, I wanted to come to you guys so you can do something!” At that time there was a lot of discussion about what was going on with the parking deck, I think it was past its date for changing over … It was very much a campus story that had a big implication … We weighed the concrete slab on a scale in Meshel and talked to a bunch of people related to campus and in the buildings.
After graduating from YSU and working at The Jambar, you moved on to a few local stations like WFMJ. What’d you do there and what was your experience like?
I’m a kid from the Southside of Youngstown and New York is the [farthest] I’ve ever been away from Youngstown. I learned so much about this city during my time at WFMJ. At that time growing up and being on campus and everything, now this was a really exciting moment for me. I got to write web stories, help produce segments and work on the desk confirming stories. It felt like a really natural progression from The Jambar, where I had all these great opportunities to cover the campus and city-related events. Local news will always be, to me, one of the most important avenues for journalism.
An audience member asks, “How did your teaching experience help influence your work in the newsroom?”
When I was at Business Insider and became a senior producer, it was one of the first times I was in charge of a big team and I was very overwhelmed. It was something very new to me because I was so focused on making myself better. But it reminded me of when I was a managing editor at The Jambar, like I was in charge of these people I hang out with and it was a bit challenging for me. Teaching was that moment where I felt like I was starting to understand the ways of talking to people without talking at them. I think of Mary Beth [Earnheardt], who was always someone who never really told me I was wrong unless I was really wrong. She had a way of guiding me as an adviser; she would ask a lot of questions and then I would kind of come to the answer on my own in my head. I really tried to use that in my teaching. And when I was at Global Citizen, and Business Insider now, I started managing people and my associate producers. I try to keep that focus, that understanding, that these kids are young, ready to learn and get better.
For the full interview, visit the Youngstown State Alumni Engagement page on Facebook.