How Erin Coleman thinks about news may surprise you.
Story by Melissa Jacobs
Photography by Jenny Ham-Roberts
It’s 2:15 am on a Monday in March and Erin Coleman already knows that she’s going to have a difficult day. Hours earlier, two PA state troopers and a pedestrian were hit by a car on 1-95 near Lincoln Financial Field. Coleman has followed the news for hours via emails and texts from her producers at NBC10’s News Today. As she drives from her Penn Valley home to the Philadelphia studio, Coleman knows that the story will develop in real time during her 4 am – 7 am newscast with her co-host Keith Jones.
While she’s live on the air, Coleman will get a flurry of information through her laptop, the screen embedded into the anchor desk, and what she hears from producers in her IFB earpiece. She’ll get new details as colleagues Randy Gyllenhaal and Miguel Martinez-Valle report live from the scene and colleagues Lucy Bustamante and Sheila Watko provide information about street closures and other details.
Those details continue to emerge as Coleman prepares for the newscast, doing her hair and make-up and pulling her wardrobe from the locker of clothes she keeps at the studio. Coleman’s outfits are her own choosing, and she’s become well-known for her tailored, feminine clothes that are both conservative and modern – and the heels that she wears so that her 5’1 height isn’t completely overpowered by Jones’ 6’3 frame.
By the time Coleman walks into her 3 am editorial meeting, she knows that the troopers died at the scene. SkyForce10 is flying over the damaged police car, its doors sheared away and bearing signs of a blunt, high-speed impact. Meantime, Coleman, Jones and a phalanx of NBC-10 reporters work their sources, trying to get information about the state troopers, the third victim and the driver of the car that killed them. Coleman and Jones won’t report information until they have two sources confirm it.
As the clock nears 4 am and Coleman takes her seat next to Jones at the anchor desk, she knows that they’ll go live without having all of the facts of the crash. “We went with what we could confirm, which is how we report all breaking news stories,” Coleman explained. “We often experience the story in real time with the viewers.”
It’s much the same situation a week later when President Biden arrives in Brussels for an emergency NATO summit to address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Producers want to show Biden’s exact arrival, so while they wait for him to exit his vehicle, they cue Coleman and Jones to provide context on the summit and the entire Ukrainian situation. “That’s why I follow all of the news all day long, even when I’m not on the air,” Coleman explained. “I need to know the latest, most correct information about situations in our area and around the world – first to be an informed citizen, but also so that I can relay it accurately to viewers.”
Accuracy and context matters, especially true in times of crisis. During the unrest that followed George Floyd’s murder, Coleman did internet searches of street maps so she could explain to viewers where the protesters were marching in various cities. When Hurricane Ida flooded the Delaware Valley, Coleman worked with the entire NBC10 team – meteorologists, traffic reporters and field reporters – to deliver the most accurate information as it unfolded through the region.
Those major stories – plus the COVID pandemic – developed since Coleman and Jones became anchors of NBC10’s morning show in 2020. It’s been eventful, Coleman acknowledged, but this is why she loves being a journalist. “My job is to report news that effects people’s lives in this area and in real time,” she said. “People watch us every morning to get information they need. They depend on us for that.”
Coleman wouldn’t have it any other way; her deep background in journalism prepared her for NBC10’s anchor desk. Coleman holds a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She started her broadcast career in the American South, logging time at TV stations in Arkansas, North Carolina and Georgia, where she was the 4 pm news anchor at Atlanta’s WSB-TV. Coleman landed at NBC10 in 2016 armed with an Emmy award and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award. She anchored the 5 pm newscast with Jones until they moved to the morning show.
That change is easier on Coleman’s mom life. While her husband gets their two kids off to school, Coleman is available for after-school activities, dinner and bedtime. In fact, living in the Delaware Valley is all around better for Coleman. She’s closer to family; Coleman grew up in Voorhees, NJ and graduated from Moorestown Friends School. “It’s definitely different to report on news in this area because I know the region – its geography, history and character,” Coleman said.
All of those elements come into play when Coleman reports a story like the car crash that killed two troopers and a civilian on I-95. She’ll narrate the scene as a cadre of police vehicles escort the officers’ bodies off the highway, and she’ll report breaking details during the cutaways from NBC’s Today Show. Coleman will tape video pieces for NBC10’s website and social media platforms, finally leaving the station by 10 am. She’ll get updates all day and night, and be back on the air at 4 am the next day to report the latest news to the Delaware Valley.