By Damita Menezes
In a low ceiling room with three TV screens behind her, a couple more in front of her, and 3 pairs of eyes and ears each, Sally Ramirez proudly lives the demanding life of an executive cable news producer.
With 20 minutes of a full conversation and 25 minutes of zoom silence created by interrupting phone calls from her writers, reporters, producers and anchor Shepard Smith, I was witness to her work ethic and passion.
“Once you are committed to being a journalist, you’re a journalist 24/7,” said Ramirez when asked to explain her work routine. “You’re constantly consuming information, reading everything you can, making sure you have the latest information and the latest facts.”
Ramirez is a seasoned producer with more than 30 years of experience in TV news. Her passion for being behind the scenes and love of crafting and storytelling equip Ramirez to produce CNBC’s nightly newscast with excellence.
“I love taking the audience on an experience of storytelling through your show, through your story selection, through your production elements,” said Ramirez. “And hopefully people walk away feeling like they’ve learned something, they’re inspired by something, and it’s memorable.”
The News with Shepard Smith aims to provide a deep, non-partisan coverage and perspective on the day’s most important stories and everyday starts with a clean slate for Ramirez. With everyday beginning with a series of questions, Ramirez relies on the audience, social media metrics and her good ole gut feeling.
“Every day is different, but you have to know your audience,” said Ramirez. “You’re not producing a show for yourself. You’re producing it for your audience. You also now can use metrics. You can see what people are watching and clicking on. But you gotta use your news judgment, your gut feeling, in deciding what you think people need to know.”
With a constantly evolving news cycle Ramirez explains that her show never really goes to bed. “It is never over even after it has aired,” said Ramirez. She and her team are constantly updating with the latest, greatest, freshest, newest, and important information for their audience.
How then does Ramirez balance her personal and professional life? “Finding a balance is really challenging, I’m not going to pretend I have one. I don’t think I do; I could be better at it,” said Ramirez.
For people wanting to get into the journalism business, Ramirez warns to get ready for a life of sacrifice. “It is not a family friendly environment. And it has to be something that you love to do, but I believe this is an important service that we do for our communities.”
Ramirez was always a curious soul and a natural news fiend. But she fell in love with the news when she saw the power of media and its ability to save lives. On the local news side, when Ramirez was executive news director at KHOU in Houston, Texas, she saw how their platform saved lives with the information they broadcasted during the deadly Hurricane Harvey.
“I have a great deal of respect for the power of media. And people in this business need to have a calling for it,” said Ramirez.
In the age of the internet, everyone has the ability to create a website and publish articles and “do the news,” but that’s not journalism. Ramirez doesn’t do the news, instead she practices journalism.