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HU Alum makes her mark with NBC ‘Dateline’

(t howard)

(t howard)

Mion Edwards | Staff Writer

 Yolanda McCutchen is the representation of a person who seizes opportunities when they are presented and uses them for personal growth. The South Carolina native has always been interested in journalism.

 “I’ve always loved writing and grew up in a household where we subscribed to several magazines and the local newspaper.” She especially became interested in TV news because she watched it with her dad all of the time.

 McCutchen reflected on the days she spent at her Home by the Sea. She excelled as a student and built relationships with her professors.

 While at Hampton she wrote for Hampton Viewpoint, a news show produced by students that aired on local cable in Hampton. Being a member of The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) showed her a window of what her career path could be if she worked hard and made the right connections.

“The media symposiums exposed me to professionals and career options. I was able to gain experience on campus that prepared me for internships,” McCutchen said.

 “I had great professors and I became aware of the NBC News Associates program through the career services office.”

With her persistence and guidance from her mentors she landed an internship with the shows CBS News Productions, and CBS “This Morning.”

 She said, “I’ve been very fortunate in my career and have had great mentors. My network has led me to great opportunities.”  This internship allowed her to build her network for new opportunities.

A year after graduating from Hampton in 1997 as a member of OphiO IX, she obtained a position as an associate producer at ‘Dateline’ NBC.

 While at ‘Dateline,’ McCutchen produced stories, conducted on-camera interviews, performed, researched and shot hidden camera video. Her best experience at ‘Dateline’ was when she was pitching a story about a man that was convicted of murdering a baby.

 “It was discovered that there was actually no baby. The mother faked the pregnancy and lied about the murder. I pitched the story, and was one of the producers.

 It was the season premiere for ‘Dateline’ that year. After the story aired the case received more national attention for the release of the wrongly accused man. He was later released,” expressed McCutchen. Since her days at Dateline NBC, McCutchen has gained a lot of experience and knowledge along the way.

 A former professor at Howard University, McCutchen’s advice for college students who want to get ahead in the media industry is to start early and always remain professional.

 “Having a great professional reputation is important because industry circles are small. Media jobs are highly competitive therefore gain as much experience as possible. Master key skills such as writing, shooting and editing.

All media outlets are now multimedia including newspapers.

 Professional social media skills are needed as well and understanding web analytics,” said McCutchen. Currently, McCutchen is the public relations manager for the D.C. Housing Finance Agency. Hampton University instilled in her the value of networking and maintaining your network and professional reputation.

 The legacy McCutchen wants to leave is she wants people to always remember to stay positive.

 She advised, “Keeping a positive attitude, looking for the solution rather than dwelling on the problem.  Plus working in media is motivating, I still love it although I’m working in a different aspect than I started. There’s always something interesting and new.”

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