The weekend before last, NBC-15 multimedia journalist Lauren Winfrey arrived in Madison during the big Michigan-Michigan State football game that had one of the most amazing endings in the history of college football. Michigan State’s game-winning fumble recovery and touchdown return stole the game from Michigan in the final seconds.
That improbable ending would be enough to torture any diehard Michigan fan hailing from Detroit.
“My dad was helping me move in to my new place here in Madison on that Saturday but he had to go back to the hotel to watch the second half of the big game,” Winfrey tells Madison365. “We were so happy because we thought the game was over. But, nooooooo. That was heartbreak. That was rough. I would never wish that on anybody.”
It’s pretty clear that Winfrey bleeds blue. Her sports allegiance lies with the University of Michigan, where she completed her undergraduate studies at Ann Arbor and where she earned her bachelor of arts degree from the department of English Language & Literature. She also served as a student employee for the University of Michigan’s Office of Public Affairs and Media Relations and the Big Ten Network Student U Productions team at the University of Michigan.
But now she’s in the land of Big Red as the newest member of NBC-15’s crew. Is it going to be hard for her to now cover all things Bucky Badger?
“I don’t think it will be,” Winfrey laughs. “I love the Big 10, in general. But of course, I’m going to root for Michigan no matter what.
“But from what I’ve seen of Madison, I really love. It’s a beautiful city,” she adds. “It reminds me of Ann Arbor in many ways. I’ve driven around Madison and have tried to see different areas of the city. I know that it’s not particularly diverse but – like the rest of the country – it is becoming more and more diverse every day.”
Winfrey has been busy this past week getting to know the city of Madison and getting to know NBC15. “This is my first job in the industry so I want to make sure that I learn everything as best as I can so I can do good work,” she says.
“The stories that interest me are definitely community-based stories. I am very interested in some of the stories that may not get the most coverage,” Winfrey continues. “I know that that doesn’t always make for the most sensational television piece, but I do like being able to give that voice to people who are not heard from. That’s what I love and those are the stories I want to find. Sometimes those stories do make the most interesting stories because nobody has touched on them before.”
Winfrey was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. “People are always like, ‘Are you from the city?’ or ‘Are you from the suburbs?’” Winfrey says. “I’m from Detroit. The city. I grew up in northwest Detroit. There are definitely areas that are rougher but I think my parents did a good job of sheltering us. They were big into education and they always stressed to me how important that was.
“I don’t know if I always wanted to be a journalist from an early age, but I always liked to write quite a bit,” Winfrey adds. “I always had my own journal where I would write my thoughts and poems.”
During her senior year of high school she went to Detroit Country Day School, a private, secular school located north of Detroit. That’s when her love for journalism really kicked in. “Every senior had to do a senior project and I shadowed one of the news anchors [Carolyn Clifford] for Channel 7 in Detroit and that really piqued my interest,” Winfrey remembers. “I was like, ‘Yeah. This is what I want to do. This is cool.’”
Winfrey has interned with various media institutions such as WXYZ Channel 7 News and the popular athletic recruiting site MichiganPreps.com. She completed work as a Big Ten Network marketing ambassador for the university, and her most recent post-graduate endeavor was a six-month internship with All-American Games, a sports management and marketing company based in Wharton, New Jersey.
Winfrey graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University this past spring where she earned her master’s degree in Broadcast & Digital Journalism.
“I always saw myself as a sports reporter. I think that going to Syracuse changed that, and not in a negative way,” she says. “I saw news differently after spending time in Syracuse. I really enjoyed it. I liked being out in the field and doing community stories and political stories.”
During the capstone portion of her program, Lauren lived in Washington, D.C. While there, she worked as a Washington correspondent for WCIA-3 News for Champaign, Ill., and was afforded the opportunity to film in the White House for the 2015 Kids’ “State Dinner.”
“At my last six weeks at Syracuse University, we were basically required to work for six weeks as a D.C. correspondent for a NexStar station,” Winfrey says. “They pair you with a station. I was paired with WCIA in Champaign, Illinois, where the University of Illinois is. Basically, we were doing stories in D.C. and feeding them to central Illinois.”
Winfrey plans on reporting out in the field for awhile before she even considers getting behind the desk to be an anchor. “I feel like you kinda graduate to anchoring when you are older and a little more settled,” she says. “I want to earn my stripes and really do some work on the ground and being out there in the field for a while. I enjoy the ripping and running.”
That’s how you can really rapidly learn more about a city — something Winfrey is doing now in Madison. She says it feels good to get settled down here in the Badger state because she’s been doing a lot of moving around lately.
What does she hope to do in her spare time here in Madison?
“I like to spend time with my dog, Bo … take him on hikes. I feel bad when I’m working for a period of time and he’s home by himself,” she says. “I like to explore a city, really get to know it, and to find unique shops. I love food. I love trying out new restaurants.”
Getting to know Madison will also help Winfrey find those unique stories that she is looking for.
“My goal here in Madison is to do good work and meet people. I love building relationships with people,” Winfrey says. “I’m just very excited to get to know another city. I love that I’m in the Midwest. And I love everything that I’ve seen about Madison so far.”
Do you have a scoop for Lauren? Contact her at [email protected]