From local news reporter at CHAT-TV to writer, producer and editor at CBS in New York City, MHC alumnus Craig Wilson has achieved more than he ever dreamed possible.
While he may be working in one of the most exciting cities in the world at one the largest television networks in North America, Wilson never forgets where he came from or how his hometown has influenced the person he has become.
The oldest of five children, Wilson was born and raised in Medicine Hat to a family that was very active and well-known in the community.
The importance of being involved and making a positive contribution to society were behaviours modeled in their household and these qualities continue to define Wilson’s character.
“If you want to have an impact, there’s no better place to be than a small town,” said Wilson. “I couldn’t have asked for a better incubator than Medicine Hat.”
He attended Medicine Hat College in the early 1980s and again in 1991, studying Canadian history, First Nations issues, and politics.
“Medicine Hat College provided a great education at great price,” said Wilson, adding that you don’t have to attend schools in larger centres to receive quality instruction.
While he admits to not having a perfect academic record during his college days, the experiences and insights he gained at MHC have stayed with him over the years.
“I would have gotten completely lost in a larger school where I was just an anonymous number or face. Instead, my teachers not only knew my name, they also came to know what I was about. It sounds a bit simple, but they believed in me when maybe I didn’t.
“They were passionate about what they did and that was infectious.”
With his own passion for politics and a curiosity about the world around him, Wilson began his award-winning journalism career at Medicine Hat’s CHAT-TV as a television and radio reporter.
One summer in between journalism jobs, Wilson worked at the local tourism office, a decision that would change the direction of his life. An out-of-town couple stopped by looking for information about local services as they were to be married in Medicine Hat. With his knowledge of the community and willingness to help, Wilson quickly became their informal wedding planner, arranging everything from music to flowers.
In thanks for all he had done, Wilson received an invitation to their wedding, not realizing at the time that he would meet his future wife at the event. Within the year, Wilson moved to New York City where his fiancé lived, went back to school, got married and started a new life.
“Nothing in my life has been a straight arrow,”
said Wilson. “There have been countless detours and dead ends. Perseverance has made me a better person.”
Eager to find a way into the New York broadcast industry, Wilson called on Canadian media legend, Knowlton Nash. Wilson had met Nash once and asked him for just one name in the industry that he could call.
That name was the head of CBC operations at the United Nations and with that connection, Wilson landed his first job in New York City.
He admitted it took guts to make that call, but in the end, he says, it’s up to each of us to prove ourselves.
While attending Columbia University, he started “helping out” at the CBC United Nations bureau after class. Sooner than later, he was covering the office as a freelance producer. During his time with CBC, Wilson covered international headlines such as the wars in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, the World Trade Centre bombings and the September 11 attacks.
For Wilson, dealing with bad news comes with the territory, but usually the bad news is happening somewhere else. “This time, it happened in our own backyard. It has had a profound impact on me personally and professionally. I wish it wasn’t that way but it is,” said Wilson of the terrorist attacks.
The following year, he received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal recognizing his coverage of Canadians in New York and Canada’s commitment to the United States in the aftermath of 9/11.
With his reputation firmly established in New York’s highly competitive broadcast industry, Wilson moved on to work at CBS as an assistant producer. He worked his way up and currently serves as a producer, writer and editor for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and the CBS Evening News Weekend Edition.
Twice he has been nominated for a Writer’s Guild of America award in the category Outstanding Script, Television News. In 2003 he was nominated for and won the Writer’s Guild award for “Showdown with Saddam” about the morning of the US invasion in Iraq. He was also nominated for “The Battle for Iraq: Four Years After the Invasion.”
Wilson has also had the opportunity to track Canadian-related stories and cross-border issues including the importance of the Canadian / US energy relationship, the Alberta Oil Sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline.
“The quality of journalism is very high,” said Wilson of the network’s reputation. “It’s demanding professionally but rewarding personally. It’s a dream come true.”
Working at one of the largest television networks in the United States, Wilson is proud to help people decide what to think on issues, a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly.
“I get to tell people what was important today. It’s a heavy responsibility but it brings me great joy. I’m not a politician but I feel like I can make a difference.”
As one of 100,000 Canadians living in the New York, Wilson works hard to make a difference in the community and support his fellow countrymen. As the director of the Canadian Association of New York (CANY), he advocates for Canadian issues and works in close contact with the Canadian Consulate, providing insight and media advice. He also supports fundraising efforts for the Terry Fox Run for Cancer Research in Central Park and Ice Hockey in Harlem.
“I am proud to be Canadian. I love the States but I am a Canadian. We stick together and have fun,” said Wilson of the Canuck community in New York.
Described by friends as a great “cheerleader” for Canada, Wilson shares his love for his home country and hometown with his two children who are also proud of their dual identity. The family returns to Medicine Hat every summer to spend time with family and friends and reconnect with their Canadian roots.
One of the added bonuses of dual citizenship for the Wilson family? Celebrating Canadian and American holidays.
“We have two Thanksgivings,” said Wilson. “It’s the best of both worlds.”
Craig Wilson in the CBS newsroom.
Shanna MohnsAlumni Relations Clerk
Tel: 403.504-3667Fax: firstname.lastname@example.org
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