Wednesday, 09 August 2017 07:27

Branching out, but leaning heavily on my writing roots

Written by  Cassie Fambro

My passion for writing started when I was 8 years old. My east Texas teacher issued a challenge shortly before 10 a.m., the magic time when recess began. Mrs. Jenkins told us that whoever could write the best one-page essay would get an additional ten minutes on the recess field. She would give us writing prompts, and that day’s prompt was “falling from the sky.” I wrote about money falling from the sky, and what everyone who caught it would want to buy.

I created fictional characters with wants and needs that would somehow be fulfilled by a money thunderstorm. I won the contest, which I knew as my teacher was reading it, smiling slyly at the page. I also learned a lesson that day — playing alone on a playground for ten minutes isn’t that fun. But for me, writing always was.

As I navigated three states and three different schools in those next few years, I sought out as many writing opportunities as I could. In New Mexico, I was in a creative writing class when I learned another valuable lesson.

My teacher had us write about something that was close to our heart, on a sheet of flat, matte cardstock. We thought this was unusual, but we obliged. When we concluded the project, she had one directive – paint over it. I argued against her instructions, feeling that our work would just be wasted. Ultimately, she said we had to do it, or we wouldn’t get a test grade.  It’s the first time I remember being silenced with no recourse.

Even on such a small scale, I just remember feeling the injustice, wishing I could so something about it. And of course injustice doesn’t stop in middle school.

It wasn’t until I was president of a recycling organization and wrote an op-ed in my college newspaper that I found my way. I sank myself into reporting for my college newspaper in southern Alabama. I quickly rose to opinion editor, and was the first student to be editor-in-chief for two full academic years. The largest story I covered was when a campus police officer shot and killed an 18-year-old student who had ingested a synthetic drug. I was invited to sit alongside people from the Associated Press, local TV affiliates and myriad other outlets to watch a video of the death of that student. It was up to us to tell the story of what happened that October night, because that video would never be released to the public. I spent six hours writing about it.

I won my first journalism awards for my coverage of that story, one that deeply affected me. It was a story that had polarizing sides, a great deal of potential consequence – but most importantly to me, voices that needed to be heard. Ones that could’ve easily been painted over.

It was then that I double-majored in journalism. I went on to work for, the country’s largest foray into digital journalism at the time. I covered everything from local government to education, entertainment and sports. A couple years later, I became a TV reporter.

In TV, I specialized in breaking news but covered a little bit of everything. I got to report on everything from football to tropical storms, and I was the last reporter to interview the Alabama governor before he resigned.

After almost nine years in Alabama, I chose  to seek out a fresh start and come to North Carolina. I have family here and the love of my life, a motorsports journalist.  I initially thought I would stay in TV news, but after a brief TV stint in Charlotte, I felt like I was missing something and sought an opportunity back in print journalism.

In other words, I went back to my roots, joining the Lake Norman Citizen.

The Citizen is focused in community journalism. Many doubt the future success of print journalism and even TV, but having seen both sides for the last seven years, I promise you that hyper-local coverage is where the heart of the best journalism is.

This outlet gives me the flexibility to cover a range of topics as well as pursue investigative stories that are close to my heart.

In 2017, when the media is looked at with skepticism, I can promise you this: I will always be fair. I will always listen to you. And I will stand up for what’s right, just because that’s what I think journalism is supposed to be all about.

Serious journalism talk aside, there are a few things we need to go ahead and put on the table.

I love Alabama football. I will casually say “roll tide” in conversation and I can’t even control it. I like Cubs baseball, my favorite food is enchiladas and you can tell what mood I’m in by if you see me drinking red or white wine. I love to read crime fiction, take photos and you might find me at a racetrack on the weekend.

I’m also really accessible, maybe to a fault. Follow me on Twitter @CassieFambro, or email me anytime at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’m looking forward to it.

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