Christopher Donato '14
Field Producer, ABC News
Hometown: Westchester, NY
Studied at Siena: Major in American Studies, minors in Broadcast and Creative Arts
Involvement while at Siena: I was a resident assistant and studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa
Describe a typical day in your life.
There is no typical day for me in breaking news. Some days I might be up at 4am (or earlier) to get ready for a live shot on Good Morning America or to go to the airport to catch a 6am flight, some days there are the middle of the night wake up calls to get to a breaking story, or some days I can “sleep in” until 7 or 8 AM before getting ready for work.
The work day just depends on what is going on; a slow day might mean I catch up on expenses and laundry from a prior work trip, research future stories, maybe produce a live shot for World News Tonight.
A busy day? Well, might have to travel to a story, run around gathering elements for our piece that night (shooting press conferences, booking and producing interviews, finding a location where we can be live, etc.) and can work 16+ hour day.
Since news can happen at any point in the day, I always like to say I never know when I’m going to sleep, where I’m going to sleep, or if I’m going to sleep that night. This job has taken me to 37 states and several countries
How did your Siena education prepare you for the work you’re doing today?
While at Siena, the importance of compassion and hard work were always reinforced. Having and showing compassion is incredibly important especially when we’re interviewing family members who just lost a loved one to gun violence or talking to refugees at the border of Poland and Ukraine who left everything behind and had no idea what would be next for them.
Separately, the small class sizes at Siena allowed me to have hands on experience with the TV equipment during classes which helped give me the edge over students at other schools who couldn’t use equipment until senior year, or for some, until grad-school.
Describe your professional progression since leaving Siena.
While at Siena, I was an intern at ABC and would commute down to New York City on the weekends. Two weeks after graduation, I started full-time as a Digital News Associate on the New York Assignment Desk. Then nine months later, was asked to help coordinate the 2016 election coverage and logistics. After the 2016 Inauguration, I split my time as a breaking news field producer during the week and working as an assignment editor on the assignment desk on the weekends. Then I was on the campaign trail full time starting in 2019 as a campaign embed (a reporter who is completely embedded with a campaign…you become the expert about that candidate for ABC News. Initially I was embedded with Joe Biden’s campaign before moving to New Hampshire and covering all the campaign operations there ahead of the New Hampshire Primary, then bouncing around to different states), and would also spend time producing correspondents when they would go out on the trail. I even produced Biden’s last in-person interview before the pandemic. Then when the world shut down, I was home for a few days before being put on pandemic coverage — where I won an Emmy Award for some of the coverage — and now general news.
Advice for current Saints:
It goes too fast so enjoy every minute!
Career advice for current students:
Be open! You never know where your career path will lead you. While at Siena, I wanted to be in front of the camera, but when I began working at ABC, I discovered I really enjoyed being behind it instead. Take the advice of others and really listen to everyone — no one expects you to know everything, but they will expect you to show up on time, work hard, have a good attitude, ask questions, and be ready to keep learning