Al Jazeera America just announced that Soledad O’Brien will join the network as host of its new primetime show, “America Tonight.” ESSENCE.com invited the journalist to share about her career as well as her excitement for participating in the ESSENCE Festival’s Empowerment Experience seminars.
ESSENCE.com: What are you most looking forward to at the ESSENCE Festival?
Soledad O’Brien: I’m looking forward to seeing old friends, reconnecting in an atmosphere that’s fun and relaxing, hosting the Empowerment sessions on Thursday, and, of course, the great concerts!
ESSENCE.com: What do you think about the culture in New Orleans?
O’Brien: I come to New Orleans so often that one day soon someone’s going to declare me a native. I love the food. I love the music. I serve on the board of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. I have a million friends here.
ESSENCE.com: What’s the focus of your production company Starfish Media Group?
O’Brien: It’s an exciting time. The focus of my company is great storytelling around untold stories. It’s high-quality reporting and digging into uncomfortable topics of race, class, opportunity and poverty.
ESSENCE.com: What’s your main goal with any kind of reporting you handle?
O’Brien: I still love reporting, of course, but I’m a CEO now and running a company takes a different mindset and different skills. My goal right now is to grow our partnerships into the digital space, scripted content and movies. It’s very exciting!
ESSENCE.com: How do you feel journalism has changed since you entered the business?
O’Brien: I don’t think journalism changes. It’s about digging into stories and telling them well. The basic tenets of great reporting stay the same while things around it change. Technology has made reporting easier, but it has also caused job loss. Social media has increased discussion around topics, but it has its own challenges at times.