Melodie Warner ’95 Embraces Breaking News at CNBC
Melodie Warner ’95 started her new job at the business news network CNBC on February 18 — six days before the U.S. stock market plunged into its worst week since the financial crisis of 2008.
Talk about trial by fire. Hired as a news editor at CNBC.com, Warner had to get up to speed quickly as stories about the plummeting Dow Jones Industrial Average were interspersed with updates on the spread of coronavirus and how it might affect the economy.
“Today the Fed just decided we’re going to drop interest rates,” Warner said in a March 3 interview. “So it’s a scramble to get people who have expertise to cover it. Then I coordinate with all the different teams and make sure everything is getting covered…as quickly as possible and, more importantly, as accurately as possible.”
Warner, of East Brunswick, N.J., loves the adrenaline rush of breaking news, a field in which she has worked at such media giants as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News and Dow Jones Newswires.
That’s a far cry from her early days at East Stroudsburg University where she started as a chemistry major with thoughts of becoming a pharmacist. The seeds of her passion for journalism were sewn when she had a class with English professor Nancy VanArsdale, Ph.D., who told her she was a very good writer.
Dr. VanArsdale, who was filling in as adviser to The Stroud Courier while then-professor Fred Misurella was on sabbatical, encouraged Warner to write for the student paper. Warner started reading the paper and recalls being annoyed enough by a particular column that she went to the newspaper office to complain.
“I said I’m going to see who this person is and I ended up volunteering to take a story,” she says. “That’s how I joined the newspaper.”
She learned fast and earned editing positions at the paper before becoming editor-in-chief in her senior year. With a dual major in English and Media Studies, Warner loved the newsroom but thought of journalism more as a hobby than a future career until Misurella encouraged her.
“My last year I was trying to figure out what I was going to do…and he’s like ‘what about journalism?’ And I said, ‘Well that’s fun, I can’t do that,’” Warner recalls. “He explained, well, if you like it and you can get paid for it, that’s a great thing.”
The encouragement of VanArsdale and Misurella was key to her career path. “She planted to seed and he watered it,” Warner says.
For their part, VanArsdale and Misurella aren’t surprised by her success.
“I could just see Melodie had a lot of talent,” VanArsdale says. As Stroud Courier editor, “she did a terrific job. She was a great leader; she got a lot of students interested.”
Misurella, now professor emeritus, remembers Warner as a skilled writer and interviewer who worked well under the pressure of deadlines.
“It was very clear she had a real feel for journalism and she was really very good at it,” he says.
After graduation, Warner got a job as a reporter for two weekly papers owned by the Worrall Community Newspapers of Union, N.J. and within six months was promoted to managing editor of both.
She was writing and editing lots of business news and was soon hired by Dow Jones Newswires, where she worked her way up to news editor, responsible for managing a 30-person copy editing staff and the daily operations of the breaking news desk. She also got a valuable education in economics and the stock and bond markets.
Next she moved to Dow Jones Newswires’ sister company, The Wall Street Journal, and later to Bloomberg News. At each news outlet, she specialized in writing, editing and coordinating breaking news coverage. Her new position at CNBC is in management on the digital side, where she coordinates teams of writers and editors to keep CNBC.com fresh, accurate, comprehensive and lively.
In her 25 years in journalism, Warner has seen the industry go through massive changes as print newspapers downsize or fold and digital media explodes. Newspaper layoffs and buyouts are common as publications struggle with the loss of subscribers and advertisers.
Warner has been able to thrive in a business she loves by embracing new technologies and challenges and continuously adding to her skills and areas of expertise.
“The one thing I would tell people is that you have to be open to change and not just grudgingly accept it but seek it out,” she says.
She still embraces the adrenaline rush of breaking news and the frenetic chemistry of a newsroom.
“I like just how you’re surrounded with people who are similar to you and you can have intelligent conversations about anything,” she says. “And you can have them without arguing, even if you don’t agree because everything is fact-based rather than just opinion-based. …It’s a healthy debate which I think a lot of society has lost now.”