Typical Tuesday with Teri Whitcraft
Name: Teri Whitcraft
City: New York, New York
Job: Senior Producer at ABC News
How would you describe your work?
I’m a Senior Producer at ABC News, which means that I develop and produce stories for the Special Units at ABC News. The stories range from law and justice, to medical, to business, to investigative, and division-wide booking—which is going after the big news makers or “gets.” But my personal passion is social entrepreneurs—developing stories about people who are making a change in the world.
What qualities stand out to you as necessary qualities for someone entering into your field?
Intense curiosity. Diane Sawyer has always once said that the number one prerequisite for journalism is that you have a curiosity and a drive to know more about something. Many young people have this quality—they’re looking at how they’re living in this world and how they could be doing it better for everyone around them. It’s that curiosity that drives problem solving—it’s the desire to solve whatever problems are interfering with the best form of living.
I’d also add that in my field—as in all fields—to be successful you need to work hard, put in the long hours, and be willing to work your way up from the bottom.
Thank you for that insight! Now let’s hear about a typical day!
As a Senior Producer at ABC News, I never know what the day will bring, but here’s what happened when the alarm rang on a recent day.
5:30 AM - Wake up and immediately check my Blackberry for any late updates/overnight news, then start getting ready for work.
6:30 AM - 20 minute workout at home on a yoga mat while watching the news.
7:15 AM - Take the #2 train from 72nd Street to the new downtown offices of Pencils of Promise for an informal board breakfast with their country directors. I’m hoping we can do a feature story on the group for Good Morning America when school starts in the fall.
7:43 AM - On my way downtown I email with Echoing Green’s Rich Leimsider about the new Echoing Green Fellows, and Black Male Achievement Fellows.
8:00-9:00 AM - At the Pencils of Promise meeting, supporters, parents, and staff gathered to hear four country directors talk about their adventures building schools around the globe, but it was an intern named David Sunshine Hamburger who stole the show with his passionate talk about building schools in Laos. Finally the Chairman of Board Brad Haugen spoke about their plans to start building schools in Ghana, funded largely by their Schools4All campaign with Justin Bieber to get American school kids involved. (Last year a 14 year old fan of Justin Bieber’s named Katrina Davis raised $27,000!—but another student raised even more!)
10:15 AM - Back at ABC, I work with a producer to sharpen a pitch for World News about an event the following week with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, US AID director Raj Shah and Ben Affleck to highlight the fact that 7.6 million children die before their fifth birthday.
10:30 AM - I speak with Concern World Wide about their efforts to help ease the famine in West Africa. ABC News is doing an update on a story about the crisis in Sahel, with a page about how viewers can help. (Last year, I was the coordinating producer for ABC News’ global health series “Be the Change: Save a Life”—so this was a story close to my heart.)
11:00 AM - Brief chat with Rebecca Kaufman, Echoing Green’s Work on Purpose Coordinator who wants to feature me in this Typical Tuesday profile. (I’m honored!)
11:15 AM - I help one of our interns edit a pitch for World News about how hair straightening lotions frequently used by African Americans may be linked to an increase in fibroids. (The pitch is later accepted—her first story!)
11:50 AM - Quick call with Bob Carey and his wife Linda about the Tutu Project: the heartwarming story of a man and his tutu. According to the press release, “The Brooklyn photographer, whose wife is battling a recurrence of the disease, goes out into the world wearing a giant tutu and nothing else on his hairy, un-buff bod…and hopes to turn the wacky photos of himself into a book to benefit breast cancer patients.” I want to find out if there’s a way to get our digital platform (ABC.com/Yahoo!) involved, and/or our sister company, the publisher Hyperion.
12:30 PM - Lunch with a social entrepreneur whom I met the week before at a reception for Global Citizen Year (a program created by Abby Falik that gives young people a bridge year of service learning between high school and college). My lunch companion is interested in following up on the idea I had mentioned for a show about people who are changing the world. It’s been a dream of mine for years... but so far it's just that—a dream.
2:30-4:00 PM - Make calls on a series of investigative stories I’m developing with our new investigative reporter. I am reaching out to the FBI, lawyers, former US Attorneys, whistleblowers, consumer advocates, Representatives and Senators—all trying to find that one exclusive nugget of a story that will become the basis of an original investigative report on World News with Diane Sawyer or Nightline.
4:00 PM - Send weekly report on what I’ve done this week, which includes writing several booking proposals for division-wide projects, reaching out the author of a new book about Mormons, dealing with Facebook on their organ donor initiative, going over the first draft of a script for Nightline, meetings with the ABC News booking team, brainstorming new projects for the fall, and working on a DuPont subdmission for our global health series. Never a dull day!
4:15 PM - Go online at Brooklyn Kitchen to check out cooking classes. Do I want to learn to cook roast chicken or risotto?
4:30 PM - Conference call with USAID about 5th birthday event. The word is Hillary Clinton will go through a backpack that contains $30 worth of supplies that can save a child’s life—but she won’t be able to do a sit-down interview on news of day. The question is—without an exclusive sit-down, can we get this on the air? (The answer ended up being “no”)
4:40 PM - Put together ideas for a sponsored dotcom segment on veterans, including potential stories about a wounded vets softball team, warrior dogs, and an mVet program to give smart phones to homeless vets.
5:00 PM - Meet with my Executive Producer Eric Avram to go over ideas for political specials for the fall/major bookings etc. We agree to meet on Sunday when we can focus uninterrupted for several hours.
5:38 PM - Look at a screener for a new investigative story we helped develop for Good Morning America that will air on Tuesday.
6 PM - Run to the gym for a quick class.
7 PM - Pick up a bottle of wine and berries for dessert then jump on the subway to the West Village to meet two dear friends, who are taking me to the Belmont the next day.
10 PM - Grab a cab home to the Upper West Side…exhausted and excited about yet another amazing day.
Photo courtesy of Chris Battaglia, Pencils of Promise
Senior Producer Teri Whitcraft is an Emmy Award-winning journalist at ABC News who has produced long-form segments, investigations, division-wide projects and documentary specials at ABC News since 1997. Her goal is to create a TV show about people who are changing the world: “In the next 30 minutes you can change the channel or you can change the world.” Teri.Whitcraft@abc.com
Echoing Green Live
May 22, 2013 at 10:06 AM
Fellows in Brief, May 2013
May 23, 2013 at 10:04 PM
echoinggreen: thx! RT @modelcitizen: @echoinggreen leading the charge in funding #socent. My kind of people. :) #openco http://t.co/3eUTPkvmLv
May 18, 2013 at 02:33 PM
How do I apply for a grant?
May 22, 2013 at 04:00 PM
From The New York Times to President Barack Obama to the World Economic Forum, s...