Mitchell, Russ 1960–
Russ Mitchell 1960–
As a junior in high school, Russ Mitchell knew that he wanted to become a journalist. From his humble beginnings as a night switchboard operator at an ABC affiliate in St. Louis, Mitchell has quickly risen to prominence in the world of television news broadcasting. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri on March 25, 1960. Mitchell lived in St. Louis until the age of six and then moved with his family to the suburb of Rock Hill, Missouri.
Energized by a journalism course he took during his junior year of high school, Mitchell enrolled in a two—week” Minority Journalism Workshop” the following summer at the University of Missouri at Columbia. During the workshop, he prepared stories for television and newspapers and even appeared on a Columbia television station. Mitchell’s experiences at the workshop convinced him to pursue long—term career opportunities in television journalism.
When Mitchell returned to the St. Louis area for his senior year of high school, his cousin told him about a job opening for a night switchboard operator at St. Louis’s ABC affiliate, KTVI—TV. Mitchell applied for and landed the job. As Mitchell remarked in an interview with Contemporary Black Biography (CBB) “I thought I would be doing that for a week and then anchoring their newscast! I was 17—years—old. I didn’t know anything!” Mitchell remained on the job for a year, answering phones in the newsroom on weekends and getting a birds—eye view of the daily activities in a television station.
Mitchell left KTVI—TV in 1978 to begin his freshman year at the University of Missouri. At the beginning of his junior year, he was accepted into the university’s School of Journalism. In the summer of 1981, Mitchell made his on—air debut as a five—minute” cut—in” during the Today Show.” It was the scariest thing in my life,” Mitchell recalled in an interview with CBB.” It was terrible, a horrible experience.” After his television appearance, he began the long drive home to St. Louis. Mitchell mentally reviewed his performance as he drove and, with each passing mile, his opinion of the” cut—in” improved.” By the time I got home, I thought I was ready for the network.” he told CBB. Mitchell’s family had also watched his performance and, when he arrived home, he found a note from his younger brother. As Mitchell related to CBB, the note read” We watched you this morning. You were real bad.”
Born Russ Mitchell March 25, 1960 in St. Louis, MO. Married to Erica; one daughter (born 1990). Education: BA, journalism. University of Missouri, 1982.
Career: Reporter trainee, KMBC-TV (ABQ, Kansas City, 1982; education, general assignment reporter, anchor, WFAA—TV (ABC), Dallas, TX, 1993-85; reporter, KTVITV (ABC), St. Louis, 1985-87; weekend anchor, daily reporter, KMOV-TV (CBS), St. Louis, 1987-92; co-anchor, Up to the Minute news broadcast, CBS News, 1992-93; correspondent, Eye to Eye. CBS News, 199395; anchor, CBS Sunday Night News, Washington correspondent, CBS News, 1995-1997; Co-anchor, CBS News Saturday Morning, CBS news correspondent, CBS News, 1997—.
Awards: Three Emmy awards, St. Louis chapter, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; 10 National Association of Black Journalists awards, 1985-92; Best Reporter, Missouri UPI, 1989; News award, National Association of Black Journalists, 1995; National Emmy award, 1997.
Memberships: National Association of Black Journalists.
Addresses: CBS News, 2020 MStreet NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.
Undeterred by such criticism, Mitchell continued his studies in the School of Journalism and served as a reporter and weekend anchor on the university’s television station during his senior year. Although the station was run by the University of Missouri, it was an affiliate of NBC. Therefore, Mitchell was able to perfect his anchoring and reporting skills before a sizeable viewing audience.
Mitchell graduated from the University of Missouri in 1982 and landed a broadcasting job at KMBC—TV in Kansas City. He began working at the station as a reporter trainee, which meant that he covered stories in much the same way as a full—time reporter, but for much less pay. Despite the low pay, Mitchell learned how to quickly assemble news stories, a skill which would serve him well as his career continued.
In 1983, Mitchell left Kansas City for a job at WFAA—TV in Dallas, Texas. For the next two years, he served as an education and general assignment reporter and then as an anchor for Daybreak, the local morning news show that preceded Good Morning America. In 1985, Mitchell decided that it was time to return home to St. Louis.
Eight years after beginning his broadcasting career there as a night switchboard operator, Mitchell returned to KTVI—TV as a full—time reporter. He spent the next two years at KTVI and produced a highly—acclaimed series about the violent street gangs that were plaguing the neighboring city of East St. Louis. The series earned Mitchell several awards and, as he remarked to CBB, “put my name on the map in St. Louis.” Mitchell transferred to KMOV—TV in St. Louis in 1987, where he worked as a weekend anchor and daily reporter for the next five years.
Mitchell relocated to New York City in 1992 and took a job with CBS News. His first position at CBS was as co—anchor of the overnight news broadcast, Up to the Minute. In 1993 he co—hosted Eye—to—Eye, a news magazine show, with Connie Chung. When Eye—to—Eye went off the air in 1995, Mitchell was reassigned to the CBS bureau in Washington, D.C. As a Washington correspondent and anchor of the CBS Sunday Night News, he covered the 1996 Presidential race and contributed a regular feature on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather entitled” In Touch with America.” Mitchell also covered the 1996 Republican National Convention in San Diego and reported from House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s headquarters in Atlanta on election night. He also anchored a CBS News Prime—time special,” Class of 2000—Teenagers Mean Trouble,” which offered parents and their children ways to survive the high school years.
In July of 1997, Mitchell was named co—anchor of CBS News Saturday Morning. He holds this assignment in addition to his reporting responsibilities for CBS’s Washington bureau. Mitchell also travels extensively as a reporter for the CBS news programs Eye on America and 48 Hours.
After 17 years in journalism, Mitchell retains a strong passion for his work.” I can’t imagine having a” real” job,” he remarked to CBB.” I get to meet interesting people, go places I would never go otherwise, and I get to have incredible experiences. Every day there is something new, you never know what’s going to happen…That’s the beauty of it. It’s unpredictable. It can be fast—paced, it can be a pain, but there are days it doesn’t even seem like work.” As Mitchell recounted to CBB, his career is guided by the sound advice he once received from his grandfather:” It’s the biggest pain in the world to go to a job that you hate and know that you have to go to it, but to have something that you really like is indescribable.”
As a veteran of television journalism, Mitchell has learned to graciously accept both positive and negative criticism of his work. He is a survivor in an industry known for its intense competition. Mitchell noted to CBB that he must prove himself everyday because reporters are” only as good as [their] last story.” He also told CBB that the news business” gets very personal: ‘I don’t like the way you write;’ ‘I don’t like the way you look on television.’ It’s a tough business. You have to be thick—skinned to deal with it.”
Broadcasting and Cable, April 15, 1996, pp. 40-41.
Entertainment Weekly, June 18, 1993, p. 35.
Additional information for this profile was obtained from CBS News Biography and from an interview with Russ Mitchell by Lisa S. Weitzman on February 2, 1999.
—Lisa S. Weitzman
Mitchell, Russ 1960–
Mitchell, Russ 1960–
Born March 25, 1960, in St. Louis, MO; married, wife's name Erica (marriage ended); married Karina Mahtani, December 2, 2006; children: (first marriage) a daughter. Education:University of Missouri, B.A., 1982.
Addresses: Office—CBS News, 51 West 52nd St., New York, NY 10019.
Career: Broadcast journalist, news anchor, and television personality. KTVI–TV, St. Louis, MO, nights witch board operator, c. 1977–78; KMBC–TV, Kansas City, MO, reporter trainee, 1982–83; WFAA–TV, Dallas, TX, news anchor, 1983–85; KTVI–TV, news reporter, 1985–87; KMOV–TV, St. Louis, daily reporter and weekend anchor, 1987–92; CBS News, New York City, correspondent, 1992—.
Member: National Association of Black Journalists.
Awards, Honors: Reporting award, United Press International in Missouri, 1989; News Award, National Association of Black Journalists, 1995; Emmy Award, 1997, for coverage of plane crash of TWA Flight 800; Sigma Delta Chi Award, spot news coverage, 2001, for reporting on Cuban refugee child Elian Gonzalez; award for best documentary, New York Association of Black Journalists, 2005, for a report on Stax Records; local Emmy Awards, St. Louis chapter, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; additional awards from National Association of Black Journalists.
Television Appearances; Series:
Coanchor, CBS News Up to the Minute(also known as Up to the Minuteand UTTM), CBS, 1992–93.
Correspondent, Eye to Eye with Connie Chung,CBS, 1993–95.
Anchor, CBS Sunday Night News,CBS, 1995–97.
Coanchor, CBS News Saturday Morning,CBS, 1997.
Cohost, The Saturday Early Show,CBS, 1997–2007.
Member of anchor team, CBS News Saturday,CBS, beginning 1999.
Correspondent, CBS News Sunday Morning,CBS, beginning 2002.
Anchor, CBS Evening News Sunday,CBS, 2006—.
Anchor, The Early Show,CBS, 2007–2008.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Moderator, State of the Union Address: The President, the Congress, and You,CBS, 1996.
Correspondent, Smithsonian Fantastic Journey,CBS, 1996.
Correspondent, Campaign '96: New Hampshire Primary,CBS, 1996.
Correspondent, 1996 Republican National Convention,CBS, 1996.
Anchor, "48 Hours Later," CBS Eye on People,CBS, 1997.
Anchor, "Public Eye," CBS Eye on People,CBS, 1997.
Correspondent, True or False: Teenagers Mean Trouble,CBS, 1998.
Anchor, Class of 2000: Teenagers Mean Trouble,CBS, 2000.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Guest host, Face the Nation,CBS, 2006.
CBS Evening News with Katie Couric,CBS, 2007.
Contemporary Black Biography,Volume 21, Gale, 1999.
Diverse Issues in Higher Education,August 10, 2006,p. 28.
CBS News Online, http://www.cbsnews.com, September 10, 2008.