As anchorwoman Sharon Reed prepares to depart from CBS-46 on May 22, she sits at her news desk and reflects on the past four years that she’s given to the station.
After stints in New York, Miami, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Cleveland, Reed arrived at CBS46 in June 2015, with an established reputation of being empathetic and genuine while doing her job.
Reed stressed that as important as journalism is, she doesn’t believe what she or anyone else does is special. It’s real.
“When you can you peel back the layers, be super-transparent and tell people the truth, it resonates with people,” Reed said.
Though Reed did not divulge her future plans, she also shared an inspirational nugget for up-and-coming journalists.
“I think (journalism) is the greatest profession,” she said. “That responsibility shapes minds. It can reverse course if some people only saw a story one way, we can show them another way when you’re artful and creative with the story-telling. You can show them something different, a truth that is undeniable. I’ll never give up hope.”
Reed believed journalists of color are too often handcuffed. Outnumbered and having lived an experience that is usually out of step with so many of their newsroom colleagues.
“We don’t play a large enough role if you ask me… and you just did,” Reed exclaimed. “But when we’re in the room, it’s not easy. It’s not fair to put it all on the people of color to be the ones that say, ‘Uh, wait a minute!’ and now you’re gonna get the ‘you’re so difficult response.’”
“Because of our unique perspective of what was forced upon us. It’s a unique thing, with dignity and respect, give that other side,” she continued. “If you are going to show the photograph of young people of color misbehaving, you have to show me why we have to blur the faces of some young white kids that are misbehaving or holding up racist signs. I don’t think it’s always conscious.
She added, “These images in the media are so important. If anything that shapes our values, our beliefs, our truth, this profession causes all those things to collide. I can’t not speak up.”
During Reed’s four years at CBS 46 and Peachtree-TV, the station has experienced “unprecedented growth,” according to a press release by Meredith Corporation, the operator of WGCL-TV. During her tenure, the station launched CBS46 “News at 9” on Peachtree-TV, the first 9 p.m. newscast in the Atlanta market.
Unlike other traditional local newscasts, “News at 9” took on a more opinionated look on the news of the day and enabled the anchors to engage in deeper conversation. It was during a December 5, 2017, newscast of “News at 9” that Reed called out a viewer for calling her the N-word in an email. Reed repeated the epithet in full during the newscast.
“It was happening in real-time as we were having that discussion on the Atlanta mayoral race and how race was heavily entrenched,” Reed explained. “The nine o’clock show was a different beast back then, it was very raw and opinionated. I was conflicted, even in the moment.
“This was happening really fast. On the one hand, I don’t think it’s an excuse every time somebody calls you the N-word you’re forced to react, because I consider the source. You know, ‘Garbage-in, garbage-out.’”
“But at the same time, worse than somebody calling you a n*gg*r are the people that sit on the sidelines that believe racism no longer exists. It’s the least of what they call or email me,” she continued.
“It doesn’t hurt my feelings; she might have gotten me on the wrong day. But, there’s so many people out there, black and white, who have been sheltered or not, and you want to know what’s really out there. This is what’s really out there. I didn’t know what was going to come out of my mouth. But I told my executive producer, let’s put this on the air.”
Reed revealed that many of her peers outside of the building thanked her for stating her position in the manner she did. She said that she spoke from the heart and found the overwhelming response to be positive, even from many white people.
Some responses from white people were complimentary toward Reed because the viewer–identified as Kathy Rae–does not fit into their own ideas of inclusion and diversity.
During Reed’s time at CBS46, the station took ownership of a number of major local events, including the Atlanta Pride Parade and the SEC Championship. Reed also co-anchored the station’s well-received coverage of Super Bowl LIII Week in February.
“We recognize that big opportunities come along infrequently and while we’ll miss the energy, passion and talent Sharon brings to our organization, we respect Sharon’s decision to pursue her dreams,” said CBS46 and Peachtree TV Vice-President and General Manager, Lyle Banks in a statement.
Reed, who was raised in Philadelphia by educators and a contractor, emphasized the important things her parents taught her growing up.
“I was raised at an early age to figure out who you are and go after something that suits you and your passion,” Reed explained. “I think journalism and storytelling fits for me. I am curious! It drives me crazy not to know and immediately I have to seek out that information; and that obviously lends itself to the craft.”