Charges of “fake news” notwithstanding, it’s important to remember that journalistic integrity is still the standard for most reporters – including the three University at Albany alumni profiled here.
In the fierce competition for TV news jobs, it helps to have something in your background to make you stand out. For CNN’s Washington correspondent, Ryan Nobles, it’s the graduate work he completed in the master’s program in public administration at Rockefeller College.
The degree, earned in 2005, “has made me marketable,” he notes. “I have had this level of expertise that few others have.”
Nobles says his background in statistics has helped him in understanding polls. And when President Donald Trump released the federal budget earlier this year, Nobles brought to bear his understanding of cost-benefit analysis and depreciation.
“That’s the kind of material I learned at SUNY,” he says.
A native of a tiny town in western New York State, Nobles majored in communications at The College at Brockport and rounded out his education by getting heavily involved with WBSU, the campus radio station.
In his first television job, in Utica, Nobles started as a sports broadcaster but soon was promoted to news anchor and political reporter. He took a break from journalism in 2002 to run for the New York State Assembly. He lost, but the experience gave him “incredible insight” into the electoral process. “I learned so much about how the system works. I lean on that experience to this day.”
While a graduate student at UAlbany, Nobles also worked full time for WTEN, the ABC affiliate. “During the day I was covering the state legislature, and at night I was learning about how government operated.”
He recalls former Schenectady County Manager Robert McEvoy as one of the best professors he had at Rockefeller College. “He’d challenge us, asking tough questions about how elected officials make difficult decisions. He really opened my eyes to how important government is.”
While working for the NBC affiliate in Richmond, Va., Nobles covered the presidential elections in 2008 and 2012. His one-on-one interview with Barack Obama won him a local Emmy award. Nobles’ political reporting has also won high praise from The Washington Post and Politico.
At CNN, where he has worked since 2014, he covers a host of stories, including those about Trump. While he wasn’t alive for Watergate, Nobles is excited to work with Carl Bernstein. “The idea that I get to travel in the same orbits as Bernstein is a pretty surreal experience.”
Nobles’ advice for young journalists: “I tell them they don’t need a graduate degree in journalism.” Instead, he suggests they find a niche by studying or working in a particular field, thereby developing a valuable specialty.
Nobles, 40, lives in Virginia with his wife, Karey. They have four children, ages 7 and under.