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Elise Hammond says WOUB prepared her for breaking news position at CNN

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Hammond graduated from Ohio University in 2020

ATHENS, OH – When Elise Hammond moved to New York City in 2021 to be part of creating the new CNN streaming platform called CNN+, she knew she was taking a gamble. But Hammond also knew she had the skills and resilience needed to handle whatever came her way because of her time at Ohio University and WOUB.


“I graduated from Ohio University in the spring of 2020,” said Hammond. “My last few months at Ohio University and WOUB were during the COVID-19 lockdown, and we had to come up with innovative ways to produce news from home. I learned so much during all of that.”


Hammond grew up in Columbiana, Ohio and descends from a long line of Bobcats. She knew that she wanted to study journalism in college, so Ohio University just made sense.


“Ohio University has one of the top journalism programs,” said Hammond. “I came for a visit and just fell in love with campus and all the hands-on opportunities that were there for students. To be able to work at a professional station like WOUB and get mentorship from professional staff, faculty and older students, I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of.”


Hammond started working at WOUB as a freshman. She began on The OUtlet podcast and moved into television to work on WOUB’s nightly half-hour newscast, NewsWatch.


“I was very involved with the writing and digital side of those programs. I was running social media for The OUtlet and making digital videos.”


The news and information major in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism always knew that she did not want to be on camera.


“I liked the idea of having my hands in a lot of different areas of the newscast. I knew behind-the-scenes producing was more for me,” said Hammond. “I didn’t want to focus on one story every day. I wanted to see how the whole newscast came together.”


After graduation, Hammond’s first job was as a multiplatform producer in Knoxville, Tennessee at WBIR. During her time there, she was promoted to a position producing the 5 p.m. newscast.


“WOUB and Ohio University really prepared me for what a real newsroom is like,” said Hammond. “Being at WOUB, in that environment, prepared me for the pace of TV news. It also made me very resourceful in looking for information and figuring out what’s going on and who to call.”


Hammond left Knoxville in October 2021 and later became part of the programming team for the new CNN+.


“I was part of developing and building the entire service and product,” said Hammond. “I was helping to write everything. It was producing in a different way. We were looking at user experience and how to build the streaming platform so it made sense to those who used it.”


But just about one month after its launch, CNN+ was shut down and Hammond was laid off.


“I think this was my first lesson that this is part of the business. It’s just something that happens,” said Hammond. “For me, I knew it was a risk when I moved here and took that job. Any kind of startup venture is going to be a risk. But to be able to stand back and say I built a streaming service from scratch, that’s not something a lot of people can say.”


Hammond was able to get a new job quickly, thanks to connections she had made doing freelance work for CNN’s digital live breaking news team. She was hired full-time as a live breaking news writer.


“I am covering so many big, historical stories,” said Hammond. “I covered the Roe v. Wade decision and the Mar-a-Lago search. I have to be a specialist in everything, and I’m right in the middle of everything. I basically live blog stories on the CNN website. I’m writing the stories as they are happening. It’s really fast-paced and fun.”


While doing this kind of work can be exciting, Hammond also realizes there is a lot of responsibility.


“I think it’s very important to be unbiased,” said Hammond. “Learning to ask the right questions and finding the voices that need to be in every story are things I learned at WOUB. I learned the fundamentals of listening to people, even if I didn’t agree with them. Those skills are important to keep top of mind. I practiced and learned how to do that respectfully at WOUB. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that knowledge. The writing skills and news gathering skills are things I learned at WOUB.”