RIT/NTID alumnus uses digital reporting skills for a successful career in broadcast journalism
Michael Roppolo ’14 (journalism) is an accomplished broadcast journalist and an award-winning content creator who develops engaging content to distribute across digital media platforms. Roppolo serves as a social media associate producer at CBS News, producing content related to crime and justice for 48 Hours, a documentary and news magazine that broadcasts real-life cases affecting the human experience.
Based on his interest in history and writing, Roppolo chose to major in journalism at RIT’s School of Communication, where he acquired skills ranging from writing and editing to video editing, photography and social media to prepare him for a digital media world. One of the most critical elements of journalism he learned from his classes is to report the facts.
He launched a successful career after completing cooperative education (co-op) assignments with CBS News and Fox News. Upon graduation in 2014, Roppolo joined CBS News, where he covers topics such as science, technology, crime, and entertainment.
Roppolo produces stories to raise awareness of issues around the world and continues to enhance news accessibility for viewers on social media and online. One of his accomplishments was collaborating with the CBS News team to create a special documentary “39 Days,” which earned the team the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Documentary and News Emmy for Outstanding News Special.
What inspired you to become a journalist?
I like writing, but I also like history. Journalists report on the here and now—the first rough draft of history—something I heard repeatedly at RIT. And it’s true. I am a witness to history in the newsroom. From newspapers and radio to television and web, though the medium has changed over the years, good reporting is key in our society.
How did the School of Communication and RIT experience help you prepare for a career in journalism?
The School of Communication (the Department of Communication, as it was known back then) takes a holistic approach to journalism. From video editing and photography to social media and digital asset management, these classes allowed me to gain as many skills as possible in three-and-half-years—all while staying true to the credo of journalism: report the facts. The co-op education requirement at RIT/NTID was also instrumental in getting me out there in the “real world.” I had three different co-ops: two news organizations and a non-profit.
Please tell us about your job. What are your responsibilities? What’s a typical work day like?
What I like most about my job is every day has the opportunity to be something new. My day-to-day responsibilities include managing the social media accounts for “48 Hours,” which includes Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and now, TikTok. This includes creating viral content, as well as strategizing new ways to promote the show each week. I also write trending articles and longform pieces for CBSNews.com, ranging from entertainment and true crime to science and technology. As I said before, it’s different every day.
You have been working for a major news organization like CBS for nine years. What has been the most challenging, interesting, and rewarding experience of your career?
My most interesting and rewarding experience of my career is getting the chance to bring lesser covered topics and subjects to light. I’ve interviewed Emmy-award winning actors, such as Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant. I’ve also raised awareness on subjects such as transplant discrimination and COVID cases rising in New York group homes during the pandemic. My most challenging days are when a horrific event, such as a mass shooting, occur.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
In 2018, I was part of the award-winning team behind the CBS News documentary, "39 Days,” working to promote the special about the Parkland, Florida, school shooting where we followed survivors and a grieving parent as they turned anguish into action. Then, we won the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Documentary and the News Emmy for Outstanding News Special. I’ve pushed for more accessibility in the news with closed captions and subtitles on social media and online. I’ve also pushed for more inclusive reporting with the creation of the Disability tab of CBS Village.
What advice do you have for RIT/NTID students who aspire to become a journalist or pursue a career in the communications and media industry?
Get hands-on experience while you’re at RIT/NTID and make the most out of the time there. Take chances and apply to any co-op that you want—no matter how unlikely it may seem.
What is your favorite memory of your college experience when you were a student at RIT?
I was a peer mentor for the School of Communication for two years. One of my responsibilities was to host quarterly events (back when we still went by quarters). I carved a pumpkin at the fall event one year and skated at Ritter Arena during winter quarter another year.
(The fun fact is that it was the first and only time I skated).
Is there anything you’d like to add?
When I graduated, I felt that I was ahead of the curve working on all the platforms to deliver the news—not only traditional platforms like broadcast and newspapers, but social media and web as well. The multidisciplinary approach the School of Communication took to teaching journalism at RIT was a big part of that.