Live 5's first black reporter looks back on challenges, success

Live 5's first black reporter looks back on challenges, success

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - When Loretta Mouzon took a job in the business department of Live 5 News WCSC back in 1972, she was determined to shake things up.

"I kept telling management, 'I really want to be in the news, I really want to be a news reporter. Put me in the news department.'"

Four months later, she got her wish.

When we sat down to talk, Loretta clearly recalled the backlash that came with being the station's first African-American reporter.

"You answer the phone in the newsroom, and there's someone telling you to 'get that (n word) off the air. We don't want to see (n word) on the air,' that was hard."

Even some co-workers expressed disdain for having to share working quarters with a black person.

"[A co-worker] went up to management said, 'I will not ride with a (n word) in my car,' and management called me because that wanted me to know what I was facing. So I said, 'well, tell him I have my own car and I'll meet him there'."

In a male-dominated newsroom, Loretta also took heat because she was a woman. A supervisor insisted on calling her his secretary, until management set the record straight.

"On a memo, [management] wrote that that was not my role in the news department. They said I was to be considered a full-time news reporter, not a secretary."

As the newsroom and the community realized Loretta was here to stay, she got down to the business of news. Highlights of her career include covering the bitter cold inauguration of President Jimmy Carter, and telephone interviews with the president's chief arms negotiator.

Mouzon was a competitive reporter no matter the story, and beams about being right there as Lowcountry police busted the bad guys

"I remember breaking stories about a major drug bust in a drug boat call The Owl and the Pussycat. At the time, Congress was having regular hearing on drug smuggling, and how sophisticated these boats were."

After seven years on Lowcountry air, Mouzon was promoted to Assistant News Director at Live 5 News in 1979. She didn't stay in that position for long though.

Mouzon left Charleston for bigger markets in Ohio, Indianapolis and Los Angeles. She took on upper level management roles, where she could have more influence in shaping the news.

"I also recognized that I had a chance to make sure that how we portrayed African-Americans, how we portrayed women, how we portrayed Latinos or whatever, was done in a fair way."

"You go somewhere where you are gonna get black women, white women and everything in between. You get young, you get old. So it was a chance to insist, that we portray our community as it is. And to get rid of some stereotypes because some people not even aware they have them. "

Mouzon's final assignment was in Los Angeles, working at Entertainment Tonight with Mary Hart and John Tesh. And how fitting, since her life could easily be turned into a Hollywood movie.

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