When Elise Hammond moved to New York City in 2021 to help create CNN’s new streaming platform, called CNN+, she knew she was risking it. But Hammond also knew that her time at Ohio University and WOUB gave her the skills and resilience she needed to handle anything that came her way.
“I graduated from Ohio University in Spring 2020,” Hammond said. “My final months at Ohio University and WOUB were during the COVID-19 lockdown and we had to find innovative ways to produce news from home. I learned so much doing that.”
Raised in Columbiana, Ohio, Hammond comes from a long line of Bobcats. She knew she wanted to study journalism in college, so Ohio University just made sense.
“Ohio University has one of the best journalism programs,” Hammond said. “I came to visit and just fell in love with the campus and all the hands-on opportunities that were available for students. Being able to work at a professional station like WOUB and being mentored by professional staff, faculty and senior students, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”
Hammond began working at WOUB as a freshman. She continued The drain podcast and switched to television to work on WOUB’s nightly half-hourly newscast, NewsWatch.
“I was very involved with the written and digital side of these programs. I ran social media for The drain and making digital videos.”
The news and information major at the EW Scripps School of Journalism always knew she didn’t want to be in front of the camera.
“I liked the idea of having my hands in many different areas of the newscast. I knew producing behind the scenes was more for me,” Hammond said. “I didn’t want to focus on one story every day. I wanted to see the whole news show come together.”
After graduating, Hammond’s first job was as a multiplatform producer in Knoxville, Tennessee at WBIR. During her time there, she was promoted to a position producing the 5 p.m. newscast.
“WOUB and Ohio University really prepared me for what a real newsroom is like,” Hammond said. “Being at WOUB in this environment prepared me for the pace of TV news. It has also made me very resourceful in searching for information and figuring out what’s going on and who to call.”
Hammond left Knoxville in October 2021 and later became part of the programming team for the new CNN+.
“I was involved in the development and building of the entire service and product,” said Hammond. “I helped write everything. It was produced differently. We looked at the user experience and how to build the streaming platform in a way that makes sense for those who use it.”
But just about a month after its launch, CNN+ shut down and Hammond was fired.
“I think that was my first lesson that this is part of the business. It’s just something that happens,” Hammond said. “For me, I knew it was a risk when I moved here and took this job. Any kind of startup venture will be a risk. But to be able to sit back and say that I’ve built a streaming service from the ground up isn’t a lot of people can say.”
Hammond was able to find a new job quickly, thanks to the connections she made while freelancing for CNN’s live digital breaking news team. She was hired full-time as a live news editor.
“I cover so many big historical stories,” Hammond said. “I have written about the decision of Roe v. Wade and the Mar-a-Lago Search reported. I have to be a specialist in everything and I’m right in the middle. Basically, I live blog stories on the CNN website. I write the stories as they happen. It’s really fast-paced and fun.”
While this type of work can be exciting, Hammond recognizes that it carries a lot of responsibility.
“I think it’s very important to have an open mind,” Hammond said. “At WOUB I learned how to ask the right questions and find the voices that must appear in every story. I learned the basics of listening to people, even when I didn’t agree with them. It is important to keep these skills in mind. I practiced and learned how to do this respectfully at WOUB. Without this knowledge I would not be where I am today. The writing skills and message gathering skills are things I learned at WOUB.”
To learn more about WOUB, visit woub.org.