Five Questions With Former Chicago News Director Carol Fowler

carolCarol Fowler is one of the few people who can say she has held top management positions at three stations in Chicago, the nation’s third largest market. Over the past 12 years, she held news director positions at WGN (Tribune), WBBM (CBS) and WFLD (FOX) before leaving the TV news business in 2012.

For the past year, Fowler has been working as VP of content strategy for a leading consumer reviews site based in Chicago, Viewpoints.com.

During her years in news management, Fowler led coverage of every major news story in Chicago, from the political corruption trial of former Governor Rod Blagojevich to the sidewalk beating death of teenager Derrion Albert, for which the Fox news team won a Peabody Award in 2010.

She says investigative reporting gave her greatest professional satisfaction.

“I was fortunate to work with some of the best investigative reporters in the business, including Pam Zekman, Dave Savini, Dane Placko and Larry Yellen,” Fowler said. “I always enjoyed helping them shed light onto unethical people and wasteful practices.”

I had the opportunity to interview for a position in Fowler’s CBS newsroom in 2007 and came away very impressed. We’ve kept in touch since, which may explain why she decided to grace this little website with answers to my…

5 qs

SW: You were part of the daily grind of the TV news business for a long time. Now you’re not. How does your previous work life compare to your current one?

CF: I now have time to breathe! When you’re in the news business, you are ‘always on’ — meaning even when you’re not at work, you are. It was a constant challenge to react quickly enough. My work life now is more strategic and project focused. Still very aware of the competition, but more time to research best practices, think about best next steps and how digital content should be evolving. I also get more of my news now in ways other than watching television.

SW: How did your years in management prepare you for what you’re doing now?

CF: The longer I’ve worked in a team environment, the more I appreciate and try to practice good communication. Everyone knows you should communicate with your boss, but sometimes it’s easy to overlook keeping the people you work with informed. I call it ‘managing across.’

SW: How would you finish this thought? “Back in my news days, I can’t believe we got away with…”

CF: Being so irreverent at times in editorial meetings. It is the part about being in a traditional newsroom I miss the most. Talking, debating and sharing laughs as we decided what stories and angles to cover was a raucous democracy. From time to time, people suggested putting a webcam in the editorial meetings and I was always like, “Hmmm, no …”

SW: Saints or Bears? (Don’t forget, you have Southern roots!)

CF: Growing up in Mississippi, the Saints were it! They never had winning seasons back then, so it’s been great to see more success in recent years. Now that I call Chicago home, the Bears are a favorite naturally. Am I allowed to like both?

SW: Where do we find the best pizza in Chicago?

CF: Pizzeria Uno right off Michigan Avenue can’t be beat for deep dish pies and a casual atmosphere, but just prepare to wait for a table – The last time I went it was more than two hours! (Pizzeria Due serves the same pizza in a location about a block away.) I recently discovered a place on Grand Ave. called La Madia. More upscale and pizza is served in flatbread style and quite good.

Follow Carol Fowler on Twitter.

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