From the Busiest Man on Campus to National Television Correspondent
When news breaks on Capitol Hill or at the White House, Skyler Henry (’11) is there to cover it. The Georgia Southern alumnus reports some of today’s biggest stories as a correspondent for CBS Newspath, a 24/7 newsgathering service for more than 250 CBS affiliate television stations in the U.S. and for broadcasters around the world.
“I started during the Congressional impeachment hearings against President Trump in November, so there was no handholding,” said Henry as he reflected on his first months at the CBS News division. “I felt like I got thrown into the deep end of the pool. But it was what I needed; I think. Nothing like a rare, historical event to get your blood pumping and make you dust off the political cap.”
Before mid-March, Henry, who spends most of his time bouncing back and forth between the Hill and the Executive Mansion, was on the campaign trail covering Democratic presidential hopefuls. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, changing the way journalists do their jobs.
“Most people work from home now, so you hardly see anyone anymore,” he said. “There was a time when Zoom and Skype chats were seen as ‘less than.’ I think there’s a connection with someone that you can really pull from when you’re actually in the room with them. At the White House for a stretch, we had to get our temperatures checked before we even got onto the grounds, and even now, you have to have a rapid test if you’re in close proximity to President Trump. On the Hill, there’s more electric hand sanitizer dispensers and signage reminding people to wear face masks and to remain socially distant.”
Henry, who is from Stone Mountain, Georgia, has been able to leave Washington, D.C., to report other national news stories. He covered the protests and aftermath of the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis, and the historic SpaceX rocket launch in Florida.
“When I went to Minneapolis, I didn’t know what to expect,” he explained. “Emotions were higher than high. The beautiful thing, I think, about my time spent there is that for a long time, I don’t know if all the country paid attention to this important conversation about police accountability, particularly as it impacts communities of color. I think George Floyd’s murder reignited that to the point where more people than ever, both here in the states and abroad are saying no more. It’s a frustrating topic, because the conversations are so emotionally charged, justifiably so. But to be a Black man covering a nation’s protest, I’ve never felt I’ve been more properly placed than a time like this. It’s a personal story, allowing me to add context so many others can’t.”
Henry honed his skills in broadcasting while he was a student on the Statesboro Campus. He says the University transformed his life and helped lay the foundation for the career he enjoys today.
“Georgia Southern was the time of my life,” said the multimedia communications major. “I tapped into something more while I was there and a large part of that was the autonomy that was provided for me to make my own media path. I was doing radio; the gracious powers that be allowed me to host a few things for Eagle Entertainment, and in classes in the communication arts department, we anchored Channel 97 news. I was doing it all.”
Just weeks after Henry graduated from Georgia Southern, the self-admitted busiest man on campus was in Los Angeles for a four-month internship at top-rated KIIS-FM. It’s where popular television host Ryan Seacrest broadcasts his syndicated radio show. Since that internship, Henry has made several career moves.
“When I first started, I was a stagehand for WSB-TV in Atlanta,” he said, calling it gritty work with ungodly a.m. wake-up call times. “For lack of a better analogy, I was part of the process of making the sausage; cleaning, changing lights, running teleprompter, printing scripts. It just gave me an appreciation for everybody involved in the TV news process. On my days off, I would shadow reporters in the field and every so often they’d let me ask a question or two. You make your own luck and part of that was getting into the door to find your way.”
That job was followed by stints as an evening news anchor and reporter in Macon, Georgia, and as a weekend anchor and reporter in Baltimore.
“I don’t think anyone outside of the industry knows how much work goes into it,” Henry said. “It’s not the typical 9-5. There are a lot of long hours, missed holidays and events and a constant need to be in the know. There are certainly times when you just want to put it all down for your own sanity, but you have to take a deep breath and keep pushing.”
His stints in local news served him well, leading to a job that has landed him in the room with dozens of prominent journalists while covering major news events. A skilled writer, reporter, videographer and editor, Henry offered this advice for Georgia Southern’s aspiring journalists.
“Don’t let a ‘no’ dissuade you from what you’re passionate about. Now, more than ever, it’s important to let your voices and perspectives be heard, so speak up! If it’s new, try it. Don’t be caught up in old tech or old standards. This is an ever-changing profession, so you’ve got to be willing to adapt to the times.”
Henry is unsure about his next career move but admits his dream job is to have a platform to create change and “bring about some good in the world.” Nine years after leaving Georgia Southern, the alumnus said there are times when he feels a bit like Forrest Gump.
“I find myself in, around or near some of the most newsworthy moments,” he noted. “If you would have told me when I was walking across the stage that my days now would consist of going to the White House every day, I wouldn’t have believed you. I think the first two weeks were ‘pinch yourself’ moments, not only with respect to your peers in the room, but just the fact that it’s the press briefing room in the White House. But with deadlines and live shots and stories and keeping up with the administration, you quickly realize there’s little time for gawking. The big thing for me is the honor and privilege I think the role brings. I’m fortunate enough to report on the nation’s agenda from the people’s house. I’m lucky and blessed.” – Sandra Bennett