By Ryan Velez
Kim Godwin’s potential for success was something one could see early in life. This stems from being told she could be a good writer in high school to a compliment that would change her life in college. When FAMU journalism professor, Phil Keirstead saw something in her as a college freshman that made him say she’d make a good producer, Godwin ditched her pre-med plans for a different path. This would be a fruitful one, as Godwin is the newly installed first African American woman vice president of news in the history of CBS TV. Black Enterprise shows how much her story is tied to women asking for what they want in the workplace.
Godwin is also executive director for development and diversity at CBS News, another role she openly sought and explained some of the things that lead to her success. First of these is being able to see positions that haven’t come to mind. “I was not one of those kids who grew up watching the news, wanting to do that. Margarita Pool, a CBS News producer, came to our career fair at FAMU. I asked her if I could visit her at work and, watching her, I could not believe there was an African American female in charge of stuff! I thought, ‘I want to do that,’” Godwin shares.
To make that move, you may need to work for free for a bit. “I had a professor who was the producer for a local ABC newscast and I asked to volunteer. I started talking my way into doing things—ghost rundowns, then rundowns. I talked my way all the way into the control room. I started doing the lineup and learned how to edit. When my professor quit, the news director called and offered me the job. So, my first full-time job was as executive producer,” she shares.
The role of journalism has been thrust into the limelight in recent years, but Godwin says it is the world that has changed, not the role of the profession. “I approach every story the same way. What I think does not matter; what matters is getting at the truth. I am really a stickler for questioning, are we getting the full story? Are we being fair? Did we cover every angle and do all we could? Everything’s not entertainment. We need more people in real newsrooms who really know how to cover real news. News is the cornerstone of democracy, so we have to be really good at it. If we’re not good at it, there’s no democracy,” Godwin explains.