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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Kris Van Cleave

Class of 2002, Bachelor's

Kris Van Cleave is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Award winning General Assignment Reporter for ABC7/WJLA-TV and NewsChannel 8. He's twice received the Emmy for the region's best General Assignment Reporter (2007 & 2010), and was named "2010 Best Reporter" by the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

Since joining ABC7 News in 2006, Kris has covered the Virginia Tech Shootings, the 2010 Healthcare vote, traveled to Haiti after that country’s devastating earthquake, and reported from Afghanistan on the war effort. Kris also spends time investigating "7 On Your Side," complaints--helping resolve viewers consumer issues.

He comes to the nation's capital after working as a reporter at XETV/Fox6 News in San Diego and KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs. Prior to that, Kris was the producer of KTLA-TV/Tribune's nationally syndicated "CyberGuy Report" with host Kurt Knutsson, CyberGuy. While working with CyberGuy, Kris did occasional freelance reporting for KTLA in Los Angeles and KSWB-TV in San Diego.


What are the top three skills journalism students should learn in college?:

1). Be a storyteller not a mic holder.  Tell stories, that's what makes news great--compelling stories about people.
2). Be right. Make slot.
3). Always make one more call, knock on one more door. I can't tell you how many times this has resulted in getting us things the competition does not have.

What were your duties at ATVN? :

Reporter, anchor, and producer.

List any additional major(s) or minor(s) you had at USC. What impact have they had on your career?:

Getting my hands dirty and doing it all makes all the difference--since I’ve been a “pro” I’ve had to do everything from shoot, edit, run a live truck, report, work the desk, produce--you name it.  ATVN got me into a newsroom and said do as much as you can; that’s how you learn.  I think giving students the feel of daily deadline pressure is crucial in getting a feel for news.  Learning to turn things quickly is so important. 

What is your advice to aspiring journalists?:

1. Take advantage of ATVN’s resources.  2. Intern, intern, intern. I got hired as a producer because of my experience as an intern. I got on the air because of my performance as a producer.  3. Network. The more people you know in the business the better off you will be. Contacts will help you job hunt and grow as a journalist. 4. HAVE FUN.  News can be very serious and stressful, but not all the time. Enjoy the lighter moments and have fun with it. Otherwise you will go INSANE. 

What should graduates keep in mind when negotiating their first job?:

Be patient while you are looking for a job it takes six months to a just does.  Unfortunately with your first job you aren’t in a great bargaining position unless you have two offers so you’ll end up taking what they offer, but try to get a two year deal--and stay there two years.  Its worth the time investment to grow...and DO NOT GET AN AGENT for your first job.  $20,000 doesn’t go far so you can’t give 10% away to someone (though I do love my him after my first job).

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