Breaking into Broadcasting: CBS' T. Sean Herbert '89 Gives Interns an Insider's Take

Breaking into Broadcasting: CBS' T. Sean Herbert '89 Gives Interns an Insider's Take

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Kristin Simonetti
October 22, 2014

Be assertive. Be collaborative. And never call your news program a "show" - at least if you want to be taken seriously. Award-winning CBS News Producer T. Sean Herbert '89 offered that advice and a slew of stories from his broadcasting career during an Oct. 21 lunchtime discussion with The Washington Center's media and communications interns.


"We're like first responders - that's who journalists are," said Herbert, whose work includes covering American tragedies such as the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. "We're the only other ones running toward things when stuff hits the fan."


The students spent more than an hour speaking with Herbert and peppered him with questions. Topics of conversation included his favorite assignments (the 2000 presidential election and subsequent legal battle), his not-so-favorite stories (two words: Monica Lewinsky) and his recommendations for specific projects they're tackling in their internships.


"What's your advice for getting a good, running start in the broadcast industry?" asked Leah Fleischel (Institution: Robert Morris University, Pa.; Internship: Voice of America).


"It's important for a producer to know how to do everything, but it's also important to find your strengths," Herbert said. "If you're an editor, be an editor. Do what you do best. That will help you make the best first impression."


Majal Sobeh (Institution: Hiram College, Ohio; Internship: Double R Productions) asked Herbert - a longtime contributor to CBS' iconic "60 Minutes," about his secrets for getting interview subjects comfortable on camera.


"Don Hewitt, who was the father of '60 Minutes,' gave me this advice: Never do a project about somebody, do it with somebody," Herbert said. "That's important, because it changes your perspective. You need to listen to them. Talk to them beforehand - even if it's only for two minutes. Make eye contact with them. Make them feel like they're sitting in their living room."


Herbert, who frequently makes the trip to Washington from New York to spend time with TWC interns, received the inaugural TWC Alumni Achievement Award in 2013.

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