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Deanna Fry’s Rise in Broadcast Journalism is Defined By a Sense of Humanity and Justice

"I have to give back to the school that’s given me so much,” Deanna Fry, current senior broadcast producer of the BET and CBS News newsmagazine show America in Black, says. “I’m really proud of what I learned at IU. I’m constantly building on everything I learned [there].” Courtesy photo.

Deanna Fry, BAJ’06, current senior broadcast producer of the BET and CBS News newsmagazine show America in Black, and senior producer of the CBS News race and culture unit, thought she had made the wrong career decision by going into journalism. 

“I didn’t get a job in journalism after graduation. I was so discouraged and believed I’d made the wrong choice. I couldn’t land a reporting job,” recalls Fry, of Washington, D.C. “I was still holding onto the idea that I needed to be on-air to make an impact in the business. I went on to work in advertising and production for TV and radio stations in central Indiana. I wasn’t happy. My heart was still in journalism. So, I decided to move back to [my hometown] Gary, Ind., and get an internship with WYIN-PBS in 2006.”

That’s when she discovered her true talent was producing. After her internship ended, she became a paid associate producer. Fry has since held numerous producing jobs throughout her career. As a line producer at WTHR-TV in Indianapolis, her duties included picking stories for the newscast, deciding their order within the show, writing the scripts, finding video footage, and supervising the show from the booth while on-air. As a field producer, she set up interviews and wrote for the anchors. As a segment producer, she created guest segments, found experts to speak, and wrote questions for the anchors. 

In 2017, Fry made the transition to national news as the Washington Bureau coordinating producer for Hearst Television.

“That was a difficult jump, but I was determined to make it happen,” she says. “I believed I had done all I could in local news, and it was no longer a challenge to me. I went back to my first love: political news. I applied for a job with the Hearst Washington Bureau. I had previously worked for Hearst as a line and field producer with KOAT-TV in Albuquerque, N.M.”

On her former news director’s recommendation, Fry led Hearst’s morning coverage, producing stories seen across Hearst’s 30 local TV stations. From there, she moved to CBS News, where she eventually worked as a tape producer for CBS This Morning, leaning on the reporting skills she developed at IU.

“I would write packages for the correspondents and stay on top of an ongoing story,” said Fry. “Some of the best work of my career happened while at CBS This Morning.”

It was the mark she made on CBS This Morning that got the notice of CBS executives. This led to a position at Face the Nation, one of the longest-running news programs in TV history, where she began working as a supervising producer in mid-2021. During Fry’s tenure, the show won the Radio Television Digital News Association’s First Amendment Award.

Throughout her career, Fry has covered some memorable stories. Unfortunately, the most memorable stories are often the most tragic. And awards for the coverage of such tragic events are bittersweet.

“When NBC Connecticut [where she worked from 2012–14] was awarded the Peabody and Emmy for our coverage of the Sandy Hook tragedy, we did not celebrate but felt honored,” she said. “The same for my awards for [news stories about the murders of] Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, both of which made national headlines. I feel honored, but my team’s main focus was justice and truth, not the accolades. [The accolades are] nice, but we do this for the greater good.”

Fry’s current show, the monthly newsmagazine series America in Black, began in February 2023, and is modeled on the format of CBS’s 60 Minutes. Featuring a mixture of investigative reporting, one-on-one interviews, human interest stories, and exclusive in-depth celebrity profiles, each one-hour episode illuminates leading issues, stories, and the people impacting Black America. The series was recently picked up for a second season, which began airing in February 2024. While the hours are long and the work is hard, it is, in Fry’s words, “truly a labor of love.” And she is always looking for ways to give back to the communities that have helped shape her career.

One of those ways is by returning to Bloomington as often as she can to work with IU students. Fry was recently elected to the IU Media School Alumni Association Board, a role she takes as seriously as her work in the newsroom.

“I have to give back to the school that’s given me so much,” she says. “I’m really proud of what I’ve learned at IU. Every career move [I’ve made since IU] is just the building blocks on top of that foundation. I’m constantly building on everything I learned at IU. However, if I can help young students feel like they can get their start in this business, I’m happy to help.”

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Written By

Kurt Anthony Krug

Kurt Anthony Krug is a freelance writer based in Detroit. He has interviewed numerous celebrities, including Kevin Kline, BA’70, LHD’14, for the IU Alumni Magazine.

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