Top CNN producer lives, loves, and breathes news

Javier Morgado, a graduate of the School of Communication, said he learned all the ins and outs of broadcast journalism at the University.

Each afternoon when Javier “Javi” Morgado got out of middle school, he would run home to watch WPLG—Channel 10 anchors Ann Bishop and Dwight Lauderdale deliver the local news. 

“My parents thought I was weird,” he said. “‘You are too young to watch this,’ they would say. But I loved it. It was in my blood.”

That love of news has paid off for Morgado, a University of Miami alumnus who graduated from the School of Communication with a Bachelor of Science in 1998. He was recently promoted to executive producer of “At This Hour,” CNN’s 11 a.m. show.

Javier Morgado visited WPLG—Local 10 during a school field trip in 1990.Javier Morgado visited the WPLG—Local 10 studio during a school field trip in 1990. Photo courtesy Javier Morgado

Producing a daily news show takes stamina, strength of character, and uncanny news savvy. Whether it is covering the strife between Gaza and Israel or the ups and downs on Capitol Hill, Morgado is at the top of the game. 

In his role, he has to determine what news to cover, who to interview, which news stories will air, and also react to breaking news by changing scripts and locations.

Morgado has been with the network nearly 10 years. Prior to this latest appointment, he was the executive producer of CNN’s “New Day,” the network’s morning show.

In order to get ready for that show, he would get up every day at 12:30 a.m. to be at the office by 2 a.m. to ready the show that airs from 6 to 9 a.m. 

Some people would say those work hours are crazy. But Morgado said he did it because he loves what he does. And when people asked how he maintained his happy personality the answer was easy: “I have learned to manage my stress. I channel my energy,” he said.    

“The thing about Javi is no matter how many things he is juggling before the show, or how many fires he puts out during the show, he always walks out of the control room with a smile after the show,” said anchor John Berman in a congratulatory video for Morgado.

As a student, Morgado learned the pressures of journalism early on. He worked at UMTV and became one of the first online editors of The Miami Hurricane student newspaper.

He credits professor Michel Dupagne with convincing him that he could do the job. “I learned how to code and it led to other jobs,” Morgado said.

At UMTV, he learned all the ins and outs of broadcast journalism, which was his major, as well as political science. Paul Driscoll, vice dean for academic affairs, remembers him as a “terrific student” in class but what impressed him the most was watching him work producing newscasts in the cramped UMTV control room. 

“As an executive producer, Javier cared deeply that our newscasts were journalistically sound,” he said. “Perhaps most impressive was Javier’s ability to motivate others to excellence. If Javier was producing, other students aspired to do their best work.”

Internships followed and then jobs at Channel 10 and WTVJ—NBC 6 in Miami, where Morgado worked in local news as the assignment manager on the assignment desk—considered the “hub of the newsroom.” 

In 2002, he moved to New York to work at NBC News as a senior editor, managing domestic and international news coverage for the network’s news and MSNBC. He also managed the coverage of the 2004 presidential elections and 2006 midterm elections.

From there, he moved to work at NBC’s Today Show, where he supervised all editorial aspects of the show. During that time, the show won two Daytime Emmys for outstanding morning program.

But Morgado said the award he is most proud of is the Edward R. Murrow Award that “New Day” received for the coverage of Hurricane Maria—a Category 5 hurricane that hit Puerto Rico with winds of up to 170 mph. Morgado, who is of Cuban descent, knew Puerto Rico well and had vacationed there often.

He supervised the CNN coverage of the hurricane’s devastating trajectory from the beginning. “A lot of people forget Puerto Rico is a part of America,” he said. “When we were covering that story, you have no idea how many times I would tell staffers when you refer to Puerto Ricans, we should say 3 million Americans.” At one time CNN had about four teams on the ground in the island, reporting on the damage. 

Even with his grueling schedule, Morgado finds time to give back. He teaches television reporting and producing at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and helps his students fine-tune their skills and tapes so they can find jobs.

He also sits on the board of trustees of the Martha Graham Dance Company and on the board of the Stonewall Community Foundation, a group that raises money for the LGBTQ community.

Morgado’s love of the University is deep. He has been part of the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the School of Communication since 2011. Two years ago, he received the 2019 South Florida Communicator of the Year Award for his contributions to the field.     

His tips for students who wish to go into the news business: 

  • Live, love, and breathe news. “You cannot succeed in this business if you don’t consume news all day. Being hungry and informed about what is happening in our world is important. Being a really good writer and storyteller will open many doors!”
  • Believe in yourself.“Too often I see students confused about what they want to do. The hardest job to get is your first job. Focus on getting that first job. Don’t think about where you want to be in the end. I never thought that I would end up at “Today Show” or at CNN. I focused on being really good at the job in front of me.”
  • Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. “I was on the assignment desk and was doing well and an executive producer pushed me and taught me that I could do what I do now.”


Mother’s Day Special: An ode to iconic onscreen mothers in Bengali cinema

Be it questioning the patriarchal reference frame or becoming the silent warrior, the workforce in parallel cinema, or the trouble-some mother-in-law in potboilers – the portrayal of mother in Bengali cinema as the bearer and nurturer is expected and at the same time rational. These are some important depictions of a time and a society where moral values had a deep resonance with the status of the mother.
Sarbajaya in ‘Pather Panchali’ and ‘Aparajito’
Satyajit Ray, to Bengalis, is a subtle weak point after Tagore. There is a delicate semblance in the psyche of the two auteurs which is heightened as Ray used Tagore’s pieces for some of his most resonant films. Interestingly, Tagore’s women were, in most of the cases, far ahead of their times. Tagore had kept them individuated, strong and dynamic – equal to men and at times superior in terms of moral virtues and emotional quotient. It is by design, Tagore kept his female protagonists child-less – from Binodini to Charulata, from Bimala to Mrinal.
It has to be noted that Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay whose novels were arguably more popular than Tagore’s at that time had placed the women at the feet of their men, subservient. Ray’s women characters from Charu to Karuna to Bimala have all been childless as well. In ‘Mahanagar’, Arati had a son but it was not their relation which got precedence in the narrative. Ray, like Tagore, placed his women in relation to their men and not foregrounding them primarily as the mother of the children of the male protagonists.

However, in the first two films, the first two parts of his iconic ‘Apu Trilogy’, Sarbajaya as the mother of Apu and Durga comes as a very strong-willed village woman. She is firm, stern and in her relation with Indir Thakrun, quite cruel. Indir Thakrun in a sense resembles the soul of rural Bengal whose depravity is all over her body. We find Sarbajaya as a loving mother yet a bit distant at times and definitely the one who wants to keep the reins of her dilapidated family in her own hands.

Shades of incestuous inklings in ‘Devi’

Devi (2)
In ‘Devi’, which is one of his most political films Ray slants at the religious cowardice that forcibly commodifies the young daughter-in-law as the ‘Goddess’ incarnates based on an ambiguous dream awakening. In reverse mimesis, the relationship between the old zamindar (as the devoted ‘son’) and the ‘Goddess’ daughter-in-law (mentioned every time as the ‘mother’, though she was childless in reality) was grounded within religious overtones and has definite shades of incestuous inklings.

The manipulator type in ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’

meghe dhaka tara.
For Ritwik Ghatak, the entire positioning of identity was different than that of Ray. Whereas Ray’s narration had primarily been based on the male-female coupledom linked on the basis of love or marriage relation, Ghatak’s testament had been mostly on a primordial one. In almost all his iconic films we find Ghatak tearing his heart on the issues of the partition of Bengal and in doing so he puts forth his characters who are mostly siblings and not a couple in the sexual sense. Even in Ajantrik where there is no sister to Bimal, Jagaddal – the car takes up the position of companion as the fellow taxi drivers tease Bimal – “Is the car a woman?” In a later scene, Bimal confides to another character that Jagaddal came into his life the year his mother passed away! In the lyrical Subarnarekha, Iswar and Sita, the brother and the sister form the core and Iswar would think Sita to be his long-lost mother. Once, Sita would whisper to Iswar that she indeed was his mother. In the climax when Iswar visits Sita’s room for sexual favours unknowingly Ghatak slaps the middle-class hypocrisy as he once commented – “(one) has to understand that whichever woman the brother visited would have been his sister”. For Ghatak, the brother-sister duo is representative of the two halves of Bengal – the East (now Bangladesh) and the West (in India), the offspring of undivided Bengal as he sings “Keno cheye achho go Ma, mukho paane” – a Tagore song in his last film Jukti, Takko ar Gappo.

In ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’, Nita’s mother is not only the nurturer of the household but also a manipulator. Finding Nita to be the only successful bread-earner for the family, she puts her weight in a way so that Nita remains the ‘man’ of the house. The father who was old and incapacitated and the elder brother Shankar who became a singer in Bombay films much later in the narrative couldn’t nourish the family. In some deft touches, Ghatak again touches the chord of the brother-sister coupledom between Shankar and Nita, a photo when they were primitive and close to nature. Nita’s mother was hopelessly hapless in a situation in which she had no control apart from clinging on to Nita, making her a victim of everyone else’s expectations and prosperity. The character, like Nita’s remains an iconic one in Bengali cinema for being an antithesis of the traditional ‘mother’ archetype in Bengali psyche and culture.

Some other important motherly figures

There have been quite a few other interesting mother portrayals in Bengali cinema as well. On the one hand the typical representation of the mother as the trouble-some mother-in-law in popular cinema over the several decades and on the other, the mother as the backbone of the familial structure. In the cinema of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen, apart from the central hero-heroine bonding, a significant part of the narrative was devoted to the relation between the hero and a mother figure (at times aunt as well). The submission of the hero to motherly love is seen as instrumental in the acceptance of Uttam not only as of the most desired man to the women but also as the most desirable son to the mothers of Bengal.
unishe april.
On a different plane altogether we can also find a dancer mother in Rituparno Ghosh’s debut film Unishe April. This is where Ghosh questions the definition of ‘success’ in a patriarchal reference frame where the dancer’s ambition to be successful in her art forced her to be alienated from her daughter and as a result looked upon as a villain. In this derogation, she is held hostage by her own daughter as well. In Ghosh’s later film Titli, the idea of the “mother”, as opposed to a desiring woman, is significantly poised where the mother almost becomes a rival of her daughter in a triangular sexual tension.

In Mrinal Sen’s urban films, the mother is the silent warrior, the workforce whom no one pays heed to but the family unmistakably revolves around her. Sen’s camera generally holds the lower-middle-class Bengali family of the 70s and the 80s and the relentless struggle of the working class comes through life.

In the Indian context, land, mother and goddess get juxtaposed and play interchangeable roles. The Bengali woman started going out to earn for the family – her father’s or her in-laws’, earlier than most of her counterparts in the other parts of the country. A big reason for this can be attributed to the influx of migrant refugees after 1947. The liberal Bengali’s rational awakening helped him to accept the working woman beside him. Yet, it is the woman who till today has to manage her multiple roles and deck up her varied portfolios. It is she who has to pay the price – within her home or at her workplace. It is she who is always expected to play the role of Durga in the everyday nuances of life. Maybe, she also believes in her avatar!


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