Bonnie Rollins

Sometimes I think, “Oh, I could have done more. I could have risen higher.” But then I go, “Oh, well, OK, I didn’t do too bad for a little girl from Russiaville, Indiana, who wanted to be a journalist.”

— Bonnie Rollins

Bonnie Rollins

Bonnie Rollins found out about JAWS through her journalist friend Sharon Walsh. At first, she felt the group might not be right for her because it was mostly composed of print reporters. However, she decided to try membership in 2001 and has since attended subsequent annual camps. She said the hallmark of JAWS is that relations are informal and inclusive while professionally fulfilling for journalists of diverse platforms.

Upon retirement as an NBC-TV producer, Bonnie reminisced, “I didn’t do too bad for a little girl from Russiaville, Indiana, who wanted to be a journalist.” Growing up in a small agricultural town, she sought to transcend traditionally ascribed gender roles through journalism and travels. Then a tornado that destroyed her hometown brought her closer to the dream. In the aftermath of the disaster, a woman radio journalist interviewed Bonnie about her tornado experience and then took her under wing when Bonnie revealed an interest in journalism. Bonnie also became involved in the town’s planning committee to rebuild. Equipped with these experiences, she studied journalism at University of Indiana‐Bloomington and sought to enter broadcast news. She began her career in public radio in Indiana and a wire service in Missouri. A move to Washington, D.C., led her to question herself, because whereas she found success easily in the Midwest, she felt insecure about her professional abilities in the competitive political capital. However, she conquered her fears and helmed the news production of important national stories for NBC Radio and eventually NBC-TV networks.

Bonnie and her husband Tony welcomed me into their home on December 21, 2013, in Arlington, Virginia. Just the night before, her newsroom colleagues had thrown her a farewell retirement party, so the oral history seemed to also mark the celebration of her professional career. Being naturally modest, Bonnie had wondered at the beginning whether she could even talk several hours about her life, but we conversed easily into the early evening.

( This interview was conducted by Youn-Joo Park )