SCOM Alumna Melinda Woolbright Coleau Finds Success in D.C. Media Scene

Written by Nikki Cohen

School of Communication alumna Melinda Woolbright Coleau has worked her way to the role of planning manager at NBC in Washington, D.C. Coleau’s trajectory into media was motivated by her education at Florida State University, where she studied radio broadcasting, scriptwriting and the transition from audio to visual storytelling.

“FSU’s School of Communication was the foundation of my career. It gave me my first taste of real-world journalism, from radio broadcasts to crafting scripts that speak to the audience,” Coleau said.

The launch of Coleau’s career coincided with the tragic events of September 11, 2001. As an intern turned full-time staffer at a news station in her hometown of Fort Myers, Florida, she was thrown into the whirlwind of breaking news and learned the skills that have remained essential throughout her career. “9/11 was a turning point, not just for the nation, but for my understanding of the power and responsibility of news reporting,” said Coleau.

Advancing through various roles, Coleau navigated the industry as a Black woman. “It was a fight for recognition, but it was worth it. Being part of a full production team, learning every aspect from the chyron operator to the newsroom, it was all a learning curve that prepared me for bigger battles and victories,” she said. Now, Coleau is a proud member of the National Association for Black Journalists (NABJ).

“Every day is about staying ahead, knowing what’s happening, and how we can best serve our audience. It’s a continuous cycle of communication, decision-making, and storytelling,” she said about her current role as a planning manager at NBC. For Coleau, the most gratifying aspect of her career is mentoring emerging journalists, guiding them through the complexities of the media landscape, and fostering their growth.

Her advice to students navigating the balance between passion and practicality in entertainment and news media is, “Know what you want and go for it. The path might not be linear, but with determination, the right connections, and a clear focus, your aspirations are within reach.”