My name is Lenny Cohen, and I’ve been an award-winning TV/web news producer up and down the east coast, and also an elementary school teacher. In other words, I spent years helping people get information as a journalist, and children get an education as their teacher.
I’d wanted to be on TV since I was a kid. Then came college and I realized my nose looked much bigger on TV, and I didn’t like that.
It took two years out of college to get my first job, and it was at the TV station closest to my parents’ house: WSVN in Miami.
I started by taking in video feeds for minimum wage — $4.25 an hour — and got to produce the O.J. Simpson trial’s defense case, which we carried every afternoon, when the person who produced the prosecution’s case left.
Then, I started writing for the newscasts and afterward, started producing them. Eventually, I was responsible for the 5:30pm news at the #2 station in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market.
After that, I needed a change and taught elementary school for eight years, mostly first grade.
In both fields, I figured out the results I wanted meant attention to detail, and going the extra mile by maintaining contact, following up and not leaving until the job was done right.
I took some time off to decide what I wanted to do next, started the blog www.CohenConnect.com and moved to the Tri-Cities of Tennessee and Virginia, becoming Digital Media Manager at NBC affiliate WCYB. I was a department within the newsroom, meeting with the general manager and other department heads every day.
Then, I got the opportunity to return to Philadelphia as a web producer at Fox station WTXF. There, I learned exactly how competitive social media can be among four major stations in such a large market. Unfortunately, so much of what I did wasn’t news. The same went for colleagues at sister-stations. The bosses obeyed their bosses and that went pretty far up, with too much of the product looking the same. Stations owned by most of the big companies have similar situations.
I looked at various opportunities — in and out of Philadelphia, for the right job with the right boss — while continuing to blog. I also noticed how the big TV station groups were buying out others, and making changes to 100+ newsrooms and websites with every edict. Even had I stayed in the Tri-Cities, at the job I loved the most, a lot of the independence I had would’ve been lost when WCYB’s owner sold to a conglomerate.
I considered internet technology and earned a Google IT Support Professional Certificate in Dec., 2018, for completing five courses — everything from fundamentals to bits and bytes, operating systems, system administration and security. Computer technology had helped me for years in each field. I couldn’t post news or blog without it!
I learned new skills while dabbling in reporting for one of the local weekly papers, but my biggest accomplishments were writing breaking news for the website that the owner didn’t care much about and restarting the paper’s social media feeds.
There’s a saying news is like crack. That’s because working accurately, quickly and competitively is a hard habit to quit. And now, on my own, I’m returning!