A Passion for ‘Telling it Like it Is’ – Carol Cain Blends Print and Broadcast Careers

    Carol Cain, editorial director at WWJ-TV/CW 50, shown filming “Building Bridges From the Great Lakes to the Great Wall” in China as part of the CBS station’s Eye On The Future effort.

    A journalist who’s dedicated to covering Detroit and Michigan, Carol Cain is a columnist at the Detroit Free Press writing about business, politics and government issues. Joining the newspaper in 1993 as assistant business editor, she became assistant national editor in 1996. Eighteen months ago, she took on the role of editorial director at WWJ-TV/CW 50, Vice President and General Manager Trey Fabacher tapping her to help with community initiatives at the CBS station.

    Corp!: A lot of journalists with your credentials might have left for bigger markets on the east or west coast. What keeps you here?
    Cain: Detroit, the region and state are in my DNA. I believe in the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of the people I cover in both print and electronically and am certain it will help our state rebound.

    Corp!: You’ve been executive producer and host of “Michigan Matters” at WWJ-TV since it started four years ago. How did that come about?
    Cain: Originally it was a five-week election special, but it had support in the community and the station decided to expand it. Since then I’ve interviewed people like GM’s Rick Wagoner, [former Massachusetts] Governor Mitt Romney, Tony Earley from DTE, U-M’s Mary Sue Coleman, Governor Jennifer Granholm and even Dr. Phil. It’s a weekly show intended to showcase what’s going on in our region, state and community.

    Corp!: How do you juggle your roles as editorial director at WWJ-TV/CW 50 and a columnist at the Free Press?
    Cain: I am lucky to be surrounded by a wonderful team of people who love journalism and this community as much as I do. Trey Fabacher sets the direction for the station and I work with a team as we try to address important community issues. The Free Press has also been supportive as I’ve continued to write about important issues while I work full time at the station.

    Corp!: A lot of journalists are either print or broadcast, but you are doing both. How did that happen?
    Cain: Years ago when I worked as a Detroit News business columnist, J.P. McCarthy [the late WJR-AM morning host] used to have me on his show and then [the late Free Press publisher] Neal Shine asked me to be on his weekly TV show. From there, others kept calling as stories I wrote about seemed to translate on TV.

    Corp!: WWJ-TV launched its Eye On the Future community initiative a year ago. What’s that about?
    Cain: Talking about how a TV station could address some of the issues and transformational changes in our region led us to launch “Eye On
    The Future.”

    The first special was: “Building Bridges: From The Great Lakes to the Great Wall,” which aired in 2007. It won four Emmys. “Powering Michigan’s Future” on alternative energy was our second effort and it aired in May 2008. Our third TV special, “Rx for Michigan,” which dealt with economic opportunities around life sciences, medical tourism and health care, aired this past February.

    Corp!: You come from a family of journalists and communicators.
    Cain: You could call it a genetic defect. I am a third generation journalist. My grandfather, Charles Cain, was a newspaper publisher in Massachusetts. My father, Charles Cain III, worked for the Associated Press. Ruth Cain, my mom, worked for AP, the Free Press and BusinessWeek and still writes a column for the Grosse Pointe News. Of my six siblings, only one -“ my brother Chris -“ isn’t a communicator. He’s a physicist at a Salt Lake City hospital. We aren’t sure what happened to him!

    Corp!: Who is one person you’d like to interview and why?
    Cain: Martin Luther King Jr., because one issue so ingrained in our community is the discussion of race relations. With the first African-American president in office, I would love to take a few minutes and just talk with Dr. King and ask him his thoughts. That would be one fascinating conversation!