Julie Wolfe’s (ABJ ’03) path to the news director’s chair at Seattle’s legacy television station KING 5 started at the University of Georgia, where she was president of DiGamma Kappa and news director at WUOG. She started her career as a reporter at KGWN in Cheyenne, WY, WGRZ in Buffalo, NY, and WXIA in Atlanta. When social media bloomed as a publishing platform, Wolfe turned her attention to digital journalism, taking on the roles of social media manager and then digital director at WXIA, before becoming the assistant news director.
She took over as news director at WHAS in Louisville in 2018, leading the team through award-winning coverage of the Breonna Taylor case and launching its Emmy-winning investigative unit, FOCUS. Wolfe has been the news director at KING 5 in Seattle since June 2021. She served as a board member of RTDNA and is a graduate of The Carole Kneeland Project for Responsible Journalism and the Center for Creative Leadership.
Following is a brief interview with Wolfe:
GC: What skill(s) should graduates and young alumni focus on to have success early in their careers?
JW: Relentless optimism. You need both. Optimism without relentlessness is just wearing rose-colored glasses. Young journalists need to remember that what they do is important, and when done well, has a lasting and positive impact on their community.
GC: What is it about the broadcast news field that appeals the most to you? Why did you decide to enter that field?
JW: I’m one of those people who knew what I wanted to do from the time I was young. The idea of telling important stories that helps people make more informed decisions was something I felt I could dedicate a career to pursuing. Every day is different, and there is nothing that compares to the energy and adrenaline of a group of journalists working together on a big news day.
GC: What do you miss the most about being at UGA?
JW: I made lifetime friends during my time at UGA. Now, more than 20 years later, we’re spread around the country, but still support each other and cheer for the Dawgs.
GC: What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
JW: It’s okay to take a breath, a moment, a year. I was in such a hurry to get to the next step at every phase of my career, I look back and realize I didn’t always get the most out of where I was before moving to the next chapter. Right now, at 20 years old, you’re building who you ARE. There’s plenty of time to build what you’ll DO.
GC: What does this recognition mean to you?
JW: When Dean Davis called me about the award, I was so overwhelmed. It’s a difficult time to be a journalist. As a leader in journalism right now, I feel a huge responsibility to leave our industry in a better place: a place where we can continue to do important and vital work, dedicated to facts. A recognition at mid-career is a nod that you’ve done some things but have a lot more to do. It’s a position I’m embracing, and this celebration, to me, is a reminder that there is so much work left to be done.
GC: What are your best strategies for keeping up to date with industry advancements?
JW: Consuming news on all platforms exposes me to up-to-date information, but also creative and interesting ways to communicate that information. I’m an avid podcast listener so I can multitask. I also consume much of my news on mobile, and I think there’s still a lot of interactive presentation work to do on how we present news on the platform where people are consuming on the go. With Neilson now including BBO homes (Broadband Only), we’re better poised to understand how viewers are watching local news on those platforms. While it’s important to keep searching for the best ways to use technology to collect, understand and deliver news, it’s also important to me that LOCAL JOURNALISM remains at the center of those advancements.
GC: Is there anything else you would like to share?
JW: Grady College of Journalism will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where the seeds of this career, this life, were first planted. Because of the great professors and great experiences I had then, I’ve built a fulfilling journalism career on that foundation.
This is one in a series of profiles about our 2022 Alumni Award honorees and Fellowship inductees.
All our honorees and inductees will be honored at Grady Salutes: Celebrating Achievement, Leadership and Commitment on April 29, 2022 at Athens Cotton Press. Please visit our Grady Salutes registration webpage for more details.