Newscaster Sia Nyorkor Keeps it Real
Spending much of her career as a newscaster, journalist Sia Nyorkor has gotten comfortable with being candid on camera, sometimes showing emotion while reporting moving stories.
“I’ve learned that viewers like people who are authentically themselves,” said Nyorkor.
Practicing grit and kindness on and off camera, Nyorkor has paved a career across mediums, finding fresh ways to tell stories. In a recent virtual conversation moderated by Mellon fellow Maggie Messitt, Nyorkor discussed her approaches to reporting with Denison students.
The online event was part of a Happy Hour series that connects narrative journalism students with acclaimed writers and reporters. While Denison’s campus is closed amid the Covid-19 pandemic, students log into an online portal for a live video conversation with the guest of the week.
Sia Nyorkor is a multimedia journalist who currently leads the newscast for the CBS affiliate in Cleveland, Ohio. She has engaged in shooting, reporting, writing, editing, and producing content for all platforms including tv, radio, and digital. She has worked for PBS, NPR, and CBS affiliates in NJ, NY, FL, KS, and OH and MTV News in NYC. Her work has earned her a NY Emmy, a CINE Golden Eagle, a Humane Society Genesis Award and several Mid-Atlantic, Suncoast and Lower Great Lakes Emmy nominations, respectively.
In 2005, Nyorkor shot a half-hour documentary, “Liberian Democracy: A Journey Back Home,” that aired on PBS stations across the U.S. The film chronicled her experience of meeting her relatives in Liberia for the first time and covered the historic presidential election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female head of state in Africa. It’s a significant piece of her career, as it bridges both her personal and professional lives.
Calling the documentary her “passion project,” Nyorkor noted its impact on her career, “It fueled me to be able to go and do more significant work, as far as going to these places where people need a voice. People want to be heard. We need to go to dark corners and talk about things.”
Earlier this year, a widely impactful project was sparked from Nyorkor recognizing a need for important conversations in the Cleveland community. Nyorkor helped develop special programming for the CBS station to celebrate Black History Month. Inspired by the New York Times’ The 1619 project, the nine-part series featured scholars, journalists, and everyday people in Cleveland discussing the nation’s vestiges of slavery, racism today, and local activism happening in African American communities. Nyorkor said it was also important for CBS to give people an opportunity to talk about solutions and ideas.
The successful program was a community feat, as Nyorkor doesn’t recall her own station or others locally doing anything like it before for the month of February. Nyorkor said it was hard work, having to plan well in advance and gain support from management at the station. “I felt so good because I advocated for it to happen,” she said.
CBS hosted a town hall screening of the series, providing critical community engagement. “People were thirsty and hungry for stories like this,” said Nyorkor.
The program shared impactful stories and spurred community discussions on a difficult topic — a critical job of any journalist.
“Go beyond the headlines. Get out into the community,” she told students.
The Happy Hour series for narrative journalism students at Denison is funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon “Writing in Place” initiative and a gift by alumna Sue O’Donnell.