FOX News Channel’s FOX News @ Night anchor Shannon Bream is celebrating the one year anniversary of her nightly news program and participating in live coverage of one of the biggest nights of the year, Election Night.
People often assume it’s been one easy, steady climb to where I am now. I still pinch myself every time I walk onto the White House grounds or prepare to go live from the floor of one of the political conventions, but the truth is I had plenty of failure along the way.
Around 2000 I transitioned from my law practice into journalism, starting at the bottom rung making coffee and answering phones. I was more than happy for the opportunity—any opportunity—to pursue my passion for following current events and telling stories. My first TV shift was from 2 am to 11 am, I slowly gained more and more responsibilities (beyond fetching coffee) as I requested to shadow employees, came in on off days to help, and ran the teleprompter for morning anchors.
Finally, I was given the chance to begin doing a bit of reporting in the field—as long as all my other responsibilities had been fulfilled. I was totally in my element chasing down crime stories, reporting on school board meetings, and whatever other newsworthy subjects my bosses would let me tackle. And suddenly, our management team was completely replaced. The new boss called me in and he didn’t mince words. “Who thought it was a good idea to put you on the air?” he asked, adding, “You’re the worst person I’ve ever seen on TV, and you’ll never make it.”
It’s important to listen to people who will offer you constructive criticism, but not to people whose only purpose is to rain on your parade.
I gathered up my remaining shred of dignity, and after crying for two hours in a soundproof edit bay, found my way out. I struggled for several months, sending out an endless stream of resumes and reels. No one from Alaska to Kentucky would answer my emails or cold calls. There was no interest in a newbie with no journalism degree, and only the most basic level of experience. It was tough to go back to all my friends and family who had questioned my sanity when I left my legal career and explain I’d been canned. I prayed for a job, for wisdom, for anyone who was willing to take a big chance on
Months later, as my hope was wearing thin, I scored a fantastic job in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I’m not sure anyone ever truly feels like they’ve arrived. It’s exhilarating to score a top interview or land your own show, but there’s always another mountain to climb. I had plenty of people tell me I’d never succeed in journalism. I didn’t have the right degree or connections or experience or voice… You name it, the list was endless. It’s important to listen to people who will offer you constructive criticism, but not to people whose only purpose is to rain on your parade. There’s a big difference.
The truth is, the boss who fired me did me a huge favor. He made me take a harsh look at my work product, commit to my path, and work 24/7 to improve. I wouldn’t change a thing about my path because it led me to my dream job. For that, I’m grateful every day.