Christopher Ferreira is currently the producer of the 9 a.m. hour of “Today in New England” for 7 News WHDH-TV in Boston, Massachusetts. In this role, he stacks news stories for the morning rundown, searches for new and original content, and focuses on making breaking news a priority. He has experience as a 5 p.m. weekday producer at NH1 News in Concord, New Hampshire, and as a general assignment reporter for NBC Montana KCFW.
For many people, college is the time to determine a field of study and a possible career path. For Christopher Ferreira, he knew he wanted to be a reporter since the fourth grade.
“I was in fourth grade during 9/11. I remember being glued to the news. I didn’t know much about terrorism, but I kept watching the news and listening to the reporting,” Ferreira said.
He chose to pursue a degree in journalism at Roger Williams University in 2010. While at Roger Williams, Ferreira was not offered a great deal of hands-on experience, and he knew that he needed some.
The summer of his sophomore year he took an internship at NBC Connecticut WVIT in his hometown of West Hartford.
“I applied online to their internship program and spent the summer there. It was an awesome experience, and solidified that this was what I wanted to do,” Ferreira noted.
While at NBC Connecticut WVIT, Ferreira assisted both assignment editors, and crews in the field, while also conducting research and interviews for stories he’d write on the web.
Later on, in his college career, he considered studying abroad but realized it was too expensive. His advisor recommended that he take part in the Washington Internship Institute program in Washington D.C.
According to their website, the Washington Internship Institute’s mission is “to foster students’ intellectual, personal, and professional development through individually tailored, quality internships and challenging academic coursework that take full advantage of the opportunities available in the nation’s capital and reflect the best practices of experiential learning and liberal education”.
Ferreira was excited at the opportunity to intern in Washington D.C. and applied to every single news outlet there. Unfortunately, he only heard back from two organizations, CNN and CBS.
“My CNN interview was really bad because they asked me in-depth political questions I didn’t really know the answer to,” he said.
He had better luck with CBS News after talking to their Assistant Bureau Chief on the phone.
“The Assistant Bureau Chief at CBS said I sounded nice and driven. I had actually applied late for my internship, so I ended up working with the Special Events Producer instead of in the newsroom,” Ferreira said.
Due to a mishap in the newsroom with another intern, Ferreira was able to switch roles within his second week at CBS, and began working under the Senior News Producer for “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley”.
“I’m so grateful that the Senior News Producer took me on. It was an amazing experience and one of the strongest opportunities of my life,” he added.
While interning for the “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley”, Ferreira worked closely with producers to conduct research for future stories. He also assisted with the Inauguration Day coverage for President Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration, and he was even able to produce his own package on gun control legislation.
Ferreira was still an intern with CBS in Washington D.C. when the Boston Marathon Bombings occurred in April 2013.
“CBS extended the news that night until about 11 p.m. to cover the shootout that took place in Watertown (Massachusetts). I remember going into work the next day and just doing whatever I was asked. It was so amazing to watch the whole week of work culminate, it’s something I’ll never forget,” Ferreira said.
Informing people of unfortunate and tragic incidents such as terrorist attacks is what first drew Ferreira to the news, and what motivates him to be thorough in his work.
“As terrible as those events were, they drive you,” he noted.
A difficult factor about working in the world of news is handling the tragic events that happen so often.
“The news wears on you. You see things you don’t want to see,” he added.
Ferreira gave the example of how the shootings of police officers in Dallas, Texas in July 2016, greatly affected him.
“The Dallas police shootings really took a toll on me. It’s creepy but you remember details you normally wouldn’t. It stays with you, it’s stressful. You really have to keep your emotions in check,” he added.
Knowing that he always wanted to be a reporter, Ferreira accepted a job at KCFW in Montana two weeks before graduating from Roger Williams University and flew out just six days after graduation.
“When I got the offer I was so excited. But part of me was terrified, and didn’t want to go,” Ferreira said.
Although he was terrified and virtually in the middle of nowhere, Ferreira was in Montana for eight months and did not regret one minute of it.
“I learned so much about myself. There were a lot of times I called my mom and said that I was coming home. You do a lot of soul-searching in times like that,” he said.
Ferreira was friends with a reporter at KCFW who was offered a job at NH1 News in New Hampshire, while they were both still in Montana. Ferreira kept in touch with that reporter who would later let him know that NH1 had openings and were looking for news producers. Ferreira jumped on the opportunity and applied since he was desperate to get back to New England.
He ended up enjoying producing while at NH1 and was alerted of openings in the Boston area, by the same reporter he met at KCFW, who was now working at WHDH in Boston.
Ferreira has been producing at WHDH since July. He began working weekend mornings and then moved to producing the 9 a.m., hour-long show, three days a week.
“As a producer, my main role is to put the show together. I figure out the order of stories, and write all the intros, tosses, and teases,” he said.
Ferreira is also tasked with creating a show that fits the style of WHDH, as well as his own personal style, which has evolved since his days at NH1.
“My style is now snappier and much quicker than it was at NH1. It’s concise and descriptive, I let the language tell the story,” Ferreira noted.
He describes the style at WHDH to be “flashier” than NH1.
“WHDH likes to use alliterations like ‘alarming allegations’, and they also focus on strong graphics,” he added.
Ferreira considers writing to be the core thread of all his work.
“The aesthetic of the show and the writing is important. Writing frames the story,” he said.
Ferreira noted the differences between working in the mornings and the evenings.
“The mornings has its ups and downs, but I enjoy the vibe. We’re all closer since it’s quiet and mellow in the newsroom,” he added.
Being a morning producer means that Ferreira has to wake up at 2 a.m. to get ready for work. Because of his sleep schedule, he has to catch up on the news really quick. This was a difficult task when it came to this year’s presidential election.
“Speaking about the election, a lot of the speeches happen late at night, so I won’t even know what the candidates said,” he added.
This was no problem for Ferreira who considers himself a news junkie.
“I love finding a good news story. I produce the third show of the morning, so I’m always looking for new news stories, searching through twitter, and constantly checking with the assignment desk,” he said.
When asked about what he sees himself doing in the future, Ferreira was not entirely sure.
“I know I don’t want to produce my whole life. One day I’d like to try producing feature segments,” he said.
Ferreira noted that online journalism has been on the rise, and he could see himself moving to online content.
“I’m not afraid to try something new, and I think that’s a good attitude to have,” Ferreira said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Wohler is a broadcast journalist covering everything from athletics, campus activities, and student opinions at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), to local news in the North Adams, MA community. Wohler is the co-creator of MCLA’s Beacon Web News, a weekly video news program produced via The Beacon student newspaper. He serves as an anchor, reporter, editor, and producer for the program. Wohler is a senior English/communications major at MCLA, concentrating in broadcast media and journalism.