WFLA-TV’s Rod Carter Makes a Return Visit to Birmingham, Reminds Black Journalists Of Our Special Calling

Rod Carter, anchor/reporter at WFLA-TV, talked about the role of African American journalists in broadcast news during the “Standing on Their Shoulders” Conference sponsored by the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists.

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It’s a been a few years since morning news viewers in Central Alabama have been able to watch Rod Carter.

That’s because he’s been doing the early morning news back in Tampa, Fla. at WFLA-TV NewsChannel 8 since 2010.

On Saturday, Carter made a return trip to the Magic City to participate in the “Standing on Their Shoulders” Conference, an event sponsored by the Birmingham Association of Black Journalists (BABJ), of which Carter is a former vice president.

In addition to looking back at the role of the journalist 50 years ago when the city of Birmingham was the site of many flashpoints of the Civil Rights Movement, including the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963,  the BABJ event was also focused on the work still left to be done in newsrooms today.

Carter’s View

As one of the few African American reporters at WFLA-TV,  Carter considers it his job to bring a different perspective to news meetings and discussions about what stories his station covers.    He also volunteers to cover stories that he thinks are especially important for reflecting the experiences of those from historically under-represented groups.

During Saturday’s forum, he told the story of how he spent several days on a bus in order to follow Tampa Bay residents attending the 50th anniversary  commemoration of the “March on Washington” in August 1963.

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 11.18.41 PM
Rod Carter anchors “NewsChannel 8 Today” and reported on the recent 50th anniversary March on Washington.

Second Tour in Tampa

I first saw Carter’s on-air work when I was conducting research in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market at the Convergence Newsroom of the World.   In the early 2000, prior to coming to Alabama’s 13 (WVTM-TV),  Carter was an anchor/reporter at  WFLA-NewsChannel 8.

The Tampa NBC affiliate and The Tampa Tribune, both owned by Media General, moved into a converged facility that was viewed as the “newsroom of the future.”

Over the years, I’ve sat in on more than one meeting there the Tribune and WFLA and talked to folks on their staff.

In 2012, Media General sold the Tribune and its Web site, TBO.com to Los Angeles-based Revolution Capital Group.  The two outlets are part of the Tampa Media Group, Inc.   WFLA remains part of Media General as does Birmingham’s WVTM-TV.

Clearly Rod Carter is one journalist who has a firm understanding of why African Americans in the newsroom still have a special calling that goes beyond just showing for work every day.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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