Asking the Right Questions: Alumna Mia Ceran

President Pavoncello and Mia Ceran

Mia Ceran receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award from President Franco Pavoncello, in 2016

Mia Ceran, Class of 2008, is a JCU alumna who graduated in Business Administration. German born of Slavic descent, Mia was raised between the United States and Italy. She is now an accomplished journalist, having worked for Mediaset and LA7, two Italian national broadcasting stations. Mia currently works at RAI, the state-run Italian broadcasting station, where she hosts Quelli che il Calcio, a popular daytime talk show about soccer. In 2016, Mia received the Distinguished Alumni Award from President Franco Pavoncello.

How’s life after graduation? What have you done since then?
Life after graduation is as intense and as engaging as it was during my college years. I have pursued a journalistic career (which started with an internship at CNN when I was a sophomore at JCU) working for the major Italian TV networks. I have also tried my hand at hosting TV shows, political as well as entertainment ones, and enjoyed both experiences very much. I am a lucky woman, I have a full life also outside of the workplace.

How is working at RAI? What are the main between differences working for a public broadcaster and a private one (LA7)?
Working for the state TV network is, first of all, an honor. Especially when dealing with hard news you can truly feel the responsibility of being the person who delivers precious and delicate information to a vast audience. I was live during terrorist attacks, earthquakes, and elections, and especially during these events, people turn to RAI looking for updates and explanations: those are the days in which your show can last for hours and hours and you truly put your skills – and resistance – to the test.

In any other endeavor I can’t truly feel a difference working for other networks; a journalist should always maintain the same standards and work ethic, in my opinion.

Why did you decide to start working at Rai?
I was called by the former director of Rai Tre when I was working for La7. As it happened for many colleagues, television is like working in a window-shop: it’s easy for people to notice your work and call you for an interview.

What is the role of journalism today? Do you find it dangerous that news media are moving more and more towards infotainment (or how do you feel about that)?
I am very open-minded about news and infotainment co-existing in television, as long as there is no confusion about what kind of product is being offered to the audience. Risks arise when people who have no clue of how sensitive news and information are to be handled use certain topics in their show. As I said earlier, it occurred to me in my career to manage sensitive topics and dramatic events, but I have also worked with comedians and I currently host a sports/entertainment show on Sundays (Quelli che il Calcio). It’s all about knowing that in different circumstances different fact-checking, caution, tone, and delivery must be employed. Other than that I believe that each journalist is responsible for his or her own credibility, and that’s something that is not given by the network you work for or the kind of show: it’s an individual responsibility.

What are the differences, if any, in the approach to journalism in Italy compared to the US?
I have started my journalistic career at CNN at the age of 19. What I have learned on that occasion has become the foundation of all the work I have done afterwards. However, I don’t believe in cultural or geographic distinctions in journalism: again, I believe in the work ethics of every single individual.

What is the biggest challenge you encountered in your professional career? How did you overcome it?
During a terrorist attack in Dakha, in 2016, I was live on Rai Uno. Information from different sources about the Italian hostages was coming from everywhere. I was aware that the families of these people were expecting accurate news from us, and that the news had to be delivered sensitively and carefully. So while I was live, I was trying to monitor and screen all the information while delivering the part of it that appeared most reliable. We were talking about their conditions, about people that might have been killed or released as we were speaking – while their families were watching. The greatest challenge I have faced so far.

Is there any class at JCU that helped you in your career?
Many classes have. Micro and Macroeconomics taught by Mery Merva have given me the solid background you need to interpret all economics-related topics. Business Communications with Professor Favorite not only gave me tools that I use even nowadays in my daily work, but also landed me my first job in the “real world,” at Burson Marsteller PR. I can’t help but mention the literature classes as well, which opened my mind and inspired me greatly; Prof. Lanzone and Prof. Crews have been fundamental in discovering the great pleasure of reading. The list is long…

Do you have any advice for students seeking to pursue journalism?
The best part of this job is that it relates to all aspects of life. Any class can teach you something. I graduated in business administration, but I might as well have been an art major. Gaining a method is crucial in your college years; you will be required to obtain, process and deliver information quickly and accurately. So use every single class to work on your method. JCU will be a great environment to explore and curiosity is key in this job. Be curious about your fellow students, about your professors, about the city you’re in and the places where other people are from. Listen to people, and try re-telling their stories to others.

A good journalist is not someone who knows all the answers, but someone who knows the questions that need to be asked.