High pressure, high reward for CNN journalist Chris Boyette ’10

Posted on April 18, 2022

Chris Boyette standing in front of the CNN letters at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia
Chris Boyette standing in front of the CNN letters at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia
Chris Boyette ’10 is a national news editor at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Navigating journalism in 2020 wasn’t easy. The world watched as the pandemic, the economic crisis, and the impact of the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans caused by the police unfolded.

And it was the job of journalists to keep the world informed. But they were also reeling from the impact of these “unprecedented times,” resulting in shrinking newsrooms, rising distrust in the media, and being at the mercy of the 24/7 news cycle.

Boyette holding his Emmy Award

One journalist who can attest to this is Chris Boyette, a national news editor at CNN. But UNCG prepared him for his career, despite the challenges of the past few years. And now he has an Emmy Award to prove it.

Last year, Boyette was awarded an Emmy for his work on the network’s coverage of the death of George Floyd and the protests and demonstrations that followed across the county.

“Some of the best journalists in the world worked together to cover this story. It was a difficult story to tell in many ways, but that made it all the more important of a story to be told.”

As a newsgathering editor on the national desk, Boyette chases stories and works with writers, correspondents, and producers to bring those stories to CNN’s audiences. He says as soon as he and his team learned of the death of George Floyd, they knew it would require all hands on deck.

“We knew we had to tell our audiences the story, and we had to get the story right.”

Boyette says it was a team effort, especially covering the story in the middle of the pandemic. Producers, correspondents, editors, and writers all worked together from home, from the CNN bureaus, and from the field to cover not only the death of George Floyd, but also how it was impacting people across the country. 

“The death of George Floyd made the world stop and acknowledge the issues and conflicts in some communities, especially as relates to police use of force. We as journalists are able to take that national view where we can say, ‘This happened, this is how it’s affecting people around the country, but also, here are other issues highlighted and questions raised by this story.’”

Boyette says journalism not only informs, but it can connect feelings, thoughts, and vital conversation to current events.

“Journalism has always at its best been a mouthpiece for people who might not otherwise have a voice to shine a light on issues that might not otherwise be examined. I think it’s our responsibility as journalists to examine these issues, bring them to light, and listen to the voices who have been talking about them for a long time.”

Before Boyette was an award-winning journalist at CNN, he was an English student at UNCG. He had always had an affinity for literature, reading, and writing, but an introductory journalism class sparked a new passion.  

“That class made me realize that as much as I liked reading and writing fiction, I could tell true stories about things that were really happening while utilizing some of those same devices, such as character development and plot progression.”

During his time at UNCG, he became a staple at WUAG, UNCG’s college radio station, volunteering for a documentary series and hosting multiple shows about news and music, while working up the ranks to senior reporter of The Carolinian, UNCG’s student-run newspaper.

“My time at UNCG was foundational to where I am now.”

His advice to Spartans interested in journalism?

“There are also lots of journalism opportunities in Greensboro. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, whether that’s through a DIY blog, YouTube, or by writing for some of the fine publications in the area. The key is to set goals for yourself, and don’t be afraid to roll with the punches. Things may not always work out exactly as planned, but there’s opportunity out there, and it doesn’t hurt to put yourself in a position where you can jump right in when that opportunity arises.”

Story by Alexandra McQueen, University Communications


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