“A lot of people have the same obstacles in life. So why spend your energy in a negative way, tearing someone down? … Learn to work with them and you’ll gain so much more,” advises Melissa McCarty, host of “Newsbreaker” for ORA TV, Larry King’s international internet channel. It took 10 years for Melissa to reach the top of local news in LA. She looks back in her memoir, News Girls Don’t Cry, at the hard road she took to get there.
Dream of Being a Newscaster Was a Joke in the east bay of northern California.
The combination of a really rough neighborhood and her brother’s hidden mental illness created overwhelming drama through Melissa’s childhood and teenage years. She wanted more than anything to get out. When two of her friends were murdered at the age of 19 and someone was stabbed at her 19th birthday party, Melissa woke up and realized that this was not normal. People laughed when she shared her dream of becoming a television journalist. She took it as a challenge and did it anyway. Her real goal was to change the violent world she saw around her.
Balancing Family Disturbance and Career Challenges
Building a reputation as a hard-driving reporter was doubly difficult for Melissa when her brother was getting into the kinds of trouble she was reporting about. She had to struggle not to be the news while she was reporting the news. He had become an alcoholic while trying to self-medicate for bipolar disorder and severe social phobias. Everything was kept quiet out of fear of being labeled “crazy.” Melissa writes and speaks about how families need to discuss mental illness openly without judgment. She advocates for information exchange in the schools at the junior high level, to alert pre-teens of its possible existence in themselves.
Dr. Nancy points out the increasing suicides among 20 and 30 year-olds and how we really haven’t progressed much beyond the days when we hid the child with mental illness in the back room. Awareness is the key to helping people and if families aren’t discussing it, schools need to do so.
Taking Responsibility for the Words We Say and Write
Melissa speaks to groups of young writers and future broadcast journalists. Her most important message, she says, is to impress upon them how important their messages are and that they must accept responsibility for the outcomes of careless reporting. To make her point, she tells about how she will do a story in a school where a child has committed suicide and the other students are heart-broken and in shock. But while they may seem proactive in the moment, many of them contributed to that teen’s death. We need to be aware that even small belittling builds up over time to tear down our self confidence. It’s bullying at a subtle level and scars the bully as much as the victim.
Other Empowering Messages from This Conversation with Dr. Nancy
In her blog and her book, Melissa talks about how we need to support and accept each other and how she still struggles today to make the changes she needs so she can accept love and positive relationships in her life.
Check out her words of wisdom on lessons learned to empower your own life.