“My parents always taught me to go after what I wanted.”
In 1999, Meredith Land started as an intern for NBC Charleston; from day one, she knew it would take grit to become a journalist. Today, she is the main anchor at KXAS-TV (NBC5) in Dallas.
“I was an English major, journalism minor. No way did I want to be on the television,” Land says. Land had kept a journal as a girl and would have preferred to write for travel magazines instead of reporting on geopolitics. That changed when she was a shy freshman at Clemson, making friends with a few ambitious women, all of whom encouraged her to aim higher. “I always credit [my friends] for helping me get my wings,” she says.
After graduating, Land snagged her internship with NBC Charleston with the hopes that she might eventually become a journalist. Her big chance came in the form of a storm.
“Hurricane Floyd was barreling toward the coast, and everyone was evacuating, including my family. The station needed people to stay and cover it,” Land says. Few people would volunteer to remain in the path of a Category 4 hurricane.
Land watched as seasoned reporters packed up and left. “I thought, ‘Well, this is my chance to shine,’” she says. She raised her hand and volunteered to stay.
The hurricane wound up missing Charleston, but Land’s resolve won over her general manager. She became a reporter.
Three months later, she got the morning show at 22 years old. From there, Land could have played it safe. Instead, she reached out to her contacts at Charleston Air Force Base and asked if they would let her travel with local soldiers destined for Afghanistan, hoping to cover developments on the war. They agreed, and Land soon found herself on a C-17 flying through the night.
At Bagram Airfield, Land lived among her fellow Charlestonians, covering the day-to-day experiences of the soldiers and their living conditions for several weeks. She also followed them on humanitarian missions to deliver MREs to villages: “In tanks, we saw the children of Afghanistan and gave them food. That was impactful for me.”
A few weeks later, Land returned home. “It was incredible to see the sacrifices of these people, leaving families back home in South Carolina, a lot of them during the holidays,” she says.
One year later, Land made it to KXAS-TV (NBC5) in Dallas, where she has been reporting on local events ever since. She’s gone on to interview the likes of former President George W. Bush and the late T. Boone Pickens. Through it all, she has focused on the importance of being genuine.
“You’re always wondering if you’re likable to the viewer, if you’re somebody they’d like to watch,” she says. “At the end of the day, the viewers can just tell when you’re authentic. All people really want is someone who’s real.”