I can’t remember exactly how Madison Carter and I became friends, but I do know why we stayed friends – by pushing each other to be our best selves and by encouraging each other to stay focused. Carter and I both attended Syracuse University and graduated from the university together – a year ahead of schedule. While some told us we were crazy, we provided each other unwavering support – she was that person I could look to and go, “Hey – I’m not the only one. We’ve got it.”
And, Madison Carter has it.
Since graduation, Carter has been reporting and anchoring in Charlottesville, Virginia – putting out stories and content that matter to real people. As she progresses in her career, she continues to be an inspiration to me and, now, to many others.
Interview as told to and edited by Maggie Tarasovitch.
1. Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Madison Carter. I work as a reporter and anchor in Charlottesville Virginia on WVIR NBC29. I grew up in Northern Virginia, and I love my home state. I likely will work in every corner of this state before I move on. I am a Type 1 diabetic and very active in the diabetes community – educating and bringing awareness to the disease.
2. What does an average day in the life of Madison Carter look like?
I’m up wayyy earlier than 5. My alarm clock goes off just after 2 o’clock in the morning. If there’s breaking news, I have definitely made it from my bed to the field in a few minutes. There is no such thing as an average day when it comes to doing the news. I work as the morning reporter, so my days are a little bit more planned since I have to set up interviews ahead of time. I will come in to work around 3 a.m. I’ll do my hair and makeup, look over my scripts for the show. I will either anchor for 2.5 hours or report throughout the morning shows. Then, I take a little break and wait for people to wake up before heading out to do my interviews for the day around 8:30 or so. I finish up and head out of work around 10 – 11 a.m.
3. Tell us about your career thus far and what you specialize in.
I started really young. I graduated from Syracuse in a little over 2 and a half years and started working at the age of 20. I really wanted to get on the ground. I was tired of learning how to do it from books. I wanted to get the real experience. Starting in Charlottesville has been an incredible experience. Getting to be a part of the community I work in is very important to me.While racial tensions are very high in the area right now, my job as the morning reporter is very unique. I am able to show a different side of the area by doing a lot of stories that are either overlooked, or they just don’t have time to do during the day. I tell stories – the happy ones, the sad ones, the uplifting ones. The ones that show what our community really is about and what kind of people are in it. I think that’s what sets me apart from others in the field – so many people come up to me and say they feel like they know me. They do because I show them who I am every single time I’m on that T.V. screen.
Watch Carter’s story about driving with diabetes, a story that impacts her directly.
4. What is it about your industry that makes you so passionate? What motivates you to keep pushing?
I am passionate about this because, when I decided to become a reporter or journalist, I essentially had to give up my right to *publicly* have an opinion. I did that because I think it’s far more important to give my voice to those who don’t have one than to constantly be running my mouth. There’s a lot of power in journalism, and the stories we get to tell. I keep pushing through the hard times or the bad days for the people who need to be heard.
5. How’d you discover your passion for broadcast journalism?
I’ll be completely honest – I decided to do this because I thought I needed a lot of attention. I thought T.V. was really glamorous and I would be able to talk about whatever I wanted to, so I went to school and found out this is actually one of the most challenging, low-reward jobs you could have (financially, at least, in the beginning). But then what kept me going is that challenge. The grind of the everyday, telling stories, the right way.
6. Broadcast seems to be a one-man show now-a-days. Do you do almost everything on your own?
Yes, broadcast is not the “stand in front of the camera and talk” thing I thought it was. When I started out, I was working the morning shift 2am-11am three days a week, then on the weekends, I had to flip my whole body around and work 9-6. Wake up, find three stories. Shoot, write, and edit them all by myself, and THEN I got to sit in front of the camera and talk…for 30 seconds. Thirty seconds of T.V. for hours and hours of work. It’s insane. Writing skills were definitely the most important to master. You can have great interviews, and great video, but if you don’t know how to put them together you are ruining the story.
Often times those 30 seconds you’re on T.V. – you’re telling someone’s entire life story. That’s important to get right.
7. What has been your favorite story to date? What exciting stories do you have coming up?
I think my favorite story to date has been my story on the tolls of sexual assault trials. It was a story idea I just got one day after watching the Bill Cosby trial and hearing the back and forth. As a survivor myself, I really wanted to show the toll these trials can take on victims. People so often get to insert their opinions on what they think actually happened, but they aren’t realizing what these people have to go through to tell this story. The reaction I got from that piece was really incredible, as well. People better understood, and that was my goal.
Watch Carter’s story about sexual assault trials and mistrials, which aired shortly after the Cosby trial earlier this year.
I’ve been working on this piece for months about parole reform in Virginia. I want to know if [the policy of] not letting people out of jail until they complete most of their sentence is financially responsible and socially responsible. It’s been interesting getting both sides of the argument, and I want to know what will happen after this piece airs – just before the general assembly meets for next year. There are definitely changes coming.
8. What advice would you give someone who is anxious to start out in your field or in a position that is so demanding?
You have to know why you’re doing it. If you are doing this for yourself, then you probably will quit. This job is way too hard to get up every day and go to work for a paycheck. (we don’t make any money, shhh)
This is a job that’s about passion, that’s about purpose, and, at least at the level I am now, it’s about community. Invest in that.
You can follow Carter on her Facebook page.
Questions about this story? Please contact Maggie@upbyfive.com