Top CNN producer lives, loves, and breathes news

Javier Morgado was honored with the South Florida Communicator of the Year Award during the 70th Annual Student Media Awards, hosted by the School of Communication in 2019. Photo: Karina Valdes/University of Miami
By Barbara Gutierrez

Javier Morgado was honored with the South Florida Communicator of the Year Award during the 70th Annual Student Media Awards, hosted by the School of Communication in 2019. Photo: Karina Valdes/University of Miami

Top CNN producer lives, loves, and breathes news

By Barbara Gutierrez
Javier Morgado, a graduate of the School of Communication, said he learned all the ins and outs of broadcast journalism at the University.

Each afternoon when Javier “Javi” Morgado got out of middle school, he would run home to watch WPLG—Channel 10 anchors Ann Bishop and Dwight Lauderdale deliver the local news. 

“My parents thought I was weird,” he said. “‘You are too young to watch this,’ they would say. But I loved it. It was in my blood.”

That love of news has paid off for Morgado, a University of Miami alumnus who graduated from the School of Communication with a Bachelor of Science in 1998. He was recently promoted to executive producer of “At This Hour,” CNN’s 11 a.m. show.

Javier Morgado visited WPLG—Local 10 during a school field trip in 1990.
Javier Morgado visited the WPLG—Local 10 studio during a school field trip in 1990. Photo courtesy Javier Morgado

Producing a daily news show takes stamina, strength of character, and uncanny news savvy. Whether it is covering the strife between Gaza and Israel or the ups and downs on Capitol Hill, Morgado is at the top of the game. 

In his role, he has to determine what news to cover, who to interview, which news stories will air, and also react to breaking news by changing scripts and locations.

Morgado has been with the network nearly 10 years. Prior to this latest appointment, he was the executive producer of CNN’s “New Day,” the network’s morning show.

In order to get ready for that show, he would get up every day at 12:30 a.m. to be at the office by 2 a.m. to ready the show that airs from 6 to 9 a.m. 

Some people would say those work hours are crazy. But Morgado said he did it because he loves what he does. And when people asked how he maintained his happy personality the answer was easy: “I have learned to manage my stress. I channel my energy,” he said.    

“The thing about Javi is no matter how many things he is juggling before the show, or how many fires he puts out during the show, he always walks out of the control room with a smile after the show,” said anchor John Berman in a congratulatory video for Morgado.

As a student, Morgado learned the pressures of journalism early on. He worked at UMTV and became one of the first online editors of The Miami Hurricane student newspaper.

He credits professor Michel Dupagne with convincing him that he could do the job. “I learned how to code and it led to other jobs,” Morgado said.

At UMTV, he learned all the ins and outs of broadcast journalism, which was his major, as well as political science. Paul Driscoll, vice dean for academic affairs, remembers him as a “terrific student” in class but what impressed him the most was watching him work producing newscasts in the cramped UMTV control room. 

“As an executive producer, Javier cared deeply that our newscasts were journalistically sound,” he said. “Perhaps most impressive was Javier’s ability to motivate others to excellence. If Javier was producing, other students aspired to do their best work.”

Internships followed and then jobs at Channel 10 and WTVJ—NBC 6 in Miami, where Morgado worked in local news as the assignment manager on the assignment desk—considered the “hub of the newsroom.” 

In 2002, he moved to New York to work at NBC News as a senior editor, managing domestic and international news coverage for the network’s news and MSNBC. He also managed the coverage of the 2004 presidential elections and 2006 midterm elections.

From there, he moved to work at NBC’s Today Show, where he supervised all editorial aspects of the show. During that time, the show won two Daytime Emmys for outstanding morning program.

But Morgado said the award he is most proud of is the Edward R. Murrow Award that “New Day” received for the coverage of Hurricane Maria—a Category 5 hurricane that hit Puerto Rico with winds of up to 170 mph. Morgado, who is of Cuban descent, knew Puerto Rico well and had vacationed there often.

He supervised the CNN coverage of the hurricane’s devastating trajectory from the beginning. “A lot of people forget Puerto Rico is a part of America,” he said. “When we were covering that story, you have no idea how many times I would tell staffers when you refer to Puerto Ricans, we should say 3 million Americans.” At one time CNN had about four teams on the ground in the island, reporting on the damage. 

Even with his grueling schedule, Morgado finds time to give back. He teaches television reporting and producing at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and helps his students fine-tune their skills and tapes so they can find jobs.

He also sits on the board of trustees of the Martha Graham Dance Company and on the board of the Stonewall Community Foundation, a group that raises money for the LGBTQ community.

Morgado’s love of the University is deep. He has been part of the Dean’s Advisory Committee for the School of Communication since 2011. Two years ago, he received the 2019 South Florida Communicator of the Year Award for his contributions to the field.     

His tips for students who wish to go into the news business: 

  • Live, love, and breathe news. “You cannot succeed in this business if you don’t consume news all day. Being hungry and informed about what is happening in our world is important. Being a really good writer and storyteller will open many doors!”
  • Believe in yourself.“Too often I see students confused about what they want to do. The hardest job to get is your first job. Focus on getting that first job. Don’t think about where you want to be in the end. I never thought that I would end up at “Today Show” or at CNN. I focused on being really good at the job in front of me.”
  • Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. “I was on the assignment desk and was doing well and an executive producer pushed me and taught me that I could do what I do now.”