Gary Hamilton ('04) | Broadcast Journalism
Channel One News, New York City
Contributing reporter, CBSNews.com
For Gary Hamilton, there’s one factor that sums up what it takes to achieve success: hard work. From high school newscasts to working for CBS, Gary's story is tied together by a steady determination to learn, to meet new people, and most of all, to give his absolute best.
"I'm always going to give my best, no matter how small the job is," he says. "When you do good work, people notice."
Gary got his break in the world of broadcast journalism when he entered NBC's Page Program in March 2005. He started at entry level, giving tours of NBC studios and a history of the company to tourist groups. He rotated to different departments throughout the yearlong program, learning what it took to run a major television company and connecting with people who would later prove invaluable to his pursuit of a career.
During his time as a page, Gary worked with Dateline and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, meeting such industry notables as Tim Peek and Ann Curry. "In any job, you have to network," he says. "Those jobs don't just come out of the sky. Meet as many people as possible."
In 2006, Gary was offered a position as an executive assistant with NBC Agency, which produces ads and promos. He again relished the chance to meet people who could connect him to other opportunities.
After a year with the agency, Gary went to MTV, following his lifelong love of music. Next, he went to Columbia Records and "loved it," he says. But although "music is my passion," Gary says, his future was not in the music industry.
Integrating skills: producer, editor and reporter
When Channel One came to NBC, everyone on the project was replaced as the studio chose its own staff. When Gary heard that the educational channel had job openings available, he was immediately interested. Tim Peek, who was running Channel One, remembered Gary's work years before and hired him on the spot.
Channel One is a news program for teens broadcast via satellite to middle schools and high schools across the United States. "We reach about 6 million students in about 8,000 high schools," Gary says. He started at the bottom, pulling tape on the night shift and writing lesson plans. But his work ethic paid off again and soon he was promoted to production assistant, then to a spot on camera. When Channel One moved to CBS, he went with it, and was promoted to associate producer. His current title is digital journalist, which means he produces, shoots and "fronts" his own packages as the on-air reporter.
As a member of a small staff that runs a national show, Gary finds himself challenged to think creatively and integrate his skills as a producer, editor and reporter. Although he says digital media is not as integrated as everyone assumes, networks are definitely downsizing. That means that each person has to learn how to do more with less.
"People are having to learn new skills," he says. "They're requiring people to do more than just one job. I have to think of creative ways to figure it out."
Gary finds that this approach to journalism can have some detriments, particularly with young reporters who have little news experience. But for the most part, he loves the fact that journalists become deeply familiar with their stories and learn to use various skill sets to present passionate, involved reporting.
"It becomes your story," he says. "Nobody knows your story better than you do."
That approach to journalism is something he learned at ACU working on a show called "On the Ball." Because he could shoot, edit and produce without difficulty, Gary had an advantage at every position to which he applied.
"That’s one of the benefits of being on a TV show at ACU," he says. “We basically got to do everything."
ACU experience set stage for success
During his ACU experience, Gary pursued a major in journalism and a minor in business, while becoming involved in various campus groups and doing his own TV show. Throughout his college years, he had a goal of broadcast journalism in mind and was willing to do whatever it took to achieve it.
"I always had this thought - I wanted to be in television," he says. "I knew what I wanted to do and stuck with it."
That determined attitude helped him become president of the ACU National Broadcasting Society, where he won regional and national awards as well as becoming student representative for the national council one year. As a council member he helped plan the national convention with students from other universities. Meanwhile he maintained "On the Ball," which later became PAW TV; on the show, Gary served as anchor and reporter for local and community news.
"That's really where I gained experience," he says. "It's good that ACU provides those kinds of opportunities."
As Gary continues to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, also working as a contributing reporter with CBSNews.com, he's excited about the possibilities inherent in an educational show like Channel One. "It's such a fun career," he says. "We're able to put the news in such a cool way."
Gary didn't just end up at Channel One by accident, though. His story demonstrates the importance of experience, education and a strong work ethic. "I always gave it 100 percent," he says. "Because I always did my best, people noticed and gave me a chance."
He doesn't claim that everything he's accomplished was a result of his own efforts, though. Although hard work had huge impact on his career, Gary Hamilton attributes the lion's share of his success to God. "It took a lot of hard work and prayer and being dedicated. Even when the road looked pretty bleak, God was still with me," he says.
"I've been very, very blessed."
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