Each weeknight, thousands of North Texans welcome award-winning journalist Meredith Land into their homes. A longtime reporter and co-anchor for the NBC 5 News at 5, 6 and 10pm, she delivers heartwarming features and hard-hitting news with savoir-faire, as only a seasoned journalist could.
It’s a role she’s grown comfortable in and one she’s come to love, but it pales in comparison to her role of mom to 9-year-old McCall and 6-year-old Alexander.
With a challenging career, a young family and philanthropic pursuits on the docket, Land is a hard woman to pin down. Nearly eight years after featuring her as our Mom Next Door in May 2011, we caught up with her again—post school drop-off line and pre hair and makeup—to hear about her day-to-day with two kids now and what she’s learned from life in the spotlight.
How did you get your start in broadcast journalism?
I didn’t want to be on TV. My goal was to write for a travel magazine. Then I got a summer internship at the NBC station in Charleston and loved it. I got to do some reporting for the main anchor. A Category 4 hurricane came through and a lot of the reporters left, so the station asked if I could stay. I said, “Sure, I’d be happy to.” And they put me on air. The local radio stations dubbed me “Hurricane Hottie,” which I hated at the time because I wanted to be a serious journalist. But that was my big break.
What does it feel like to be on camera? Do you still get nervous?
I’m really comfortable with the studio work. I do three shows a day and there’s a teleprompter. I get nervous when there’s breaking news and it’s something that affects me on an emotional level—for instance, the Dallas police shooting in 2016. Those are guys we work with hand in hand. That took our newsroom to its knees. You want to present content in a genuine way and sometimes the content is really upsetting. I have to hold it together.
Are there stories you’ve covered that left a permanent mark on you?
Early on I was in Afghanistan for two weeks with the troops. That was a huge turning point for me—talk about shaping your worldview and understanding the sacrifices of our troops. Most recently, President George W. Bush asked us to join him as he surprised wounded warriors here in Dallas. To step outside of yourself and watch that moment is so beautiful. It’s cool that we get a front-row seat.
Have you faced obstacles as a woman in journalism?
It’s a topic I haven’t really honed, but yes I have definitely experienced sexism in the workplace. To this day, I don’t think it’s fair for women in the workplace. The “good old boys” network is alive and well. The women’s movement is important. We need to support each other.
Do you see yourself as a mentor to up-and-coming female journalists?
I do. I try to be accessible to the young women that come through and always reach out to them. There were people that reached out to me early on. When I was an intern I idolized [Charleston news anchor] Nina Sossamon-Pogue. I just thought she was the greatest thing, and she was so helpful to me. I try to be Nina and pass that along to people.
Well, you’re quite philanthropic. Why is it important to you to use your platform to give back to the community?
It’s taken me a long time to understand the platform that I have. As a mom, it’s important that my kids see how important it is to me to give back to the community. If you don’t give back you’ve wasted this reach that you have, and it feels empty putting on a pretty dress and pair of earrings every day. All of that means nothing.
What’s your daily routine like?
I get up at 6:45am with the children and get them to school by 8am. Most days, I’ll get back in bed and take a little nap because I go to bed at midnight. I get into work midday and then I’m on. We FaceTime every night. My husband cooks dinner and does the whole evening routine. We’re really a modern family. We’re in an equal partnership.
It must be difficult to be on opposite schedules.
We’re two ships passing in the night, but my kids get the best of both of us. They have me in the morning and him at night. On the weekends, we really make an effort to be together. Sometimes I wonder how long this can last. Some weeks I feel like I’m nailing it and other weeks it’s extremely hard. It’s not perfect.
How do you and Xan stay connected?
We talk all day … Marriage really is a partnership, especially when you have kids. We share a deep appreciation for what each person does, not only financially but also as a parent. If I didn’t have Xan the wheels would be off the bus. He may be the better parent!
Did you always know you wanted to have kids?
Yes. I don’t think it was ever an “if” but a “when.”
How did you know the time was right?
I didn’t want to have kids until I could provide for them and have some semblance of a schedule. I was a field reporter for so long and day to day there was no telling where I’d end up and what time I’d get home. I thought, How do I add a baby to this mix? So we waited until our early 30s to start a family and at that point I couldn’t. I had major fertility issues.
That must have been so hard …
It was so difficult. I’m a planner and it was something that was out of my control. Thank goodness for modern medicine. Eventually, I was able to do in vitro fertilization and have McCall and Alexander. Infertility is something a lot of women are ashamed to talk about, but I never was. I think women need to support each other.
As a woman, how are you different since becoming a mom?
It rocked my world. I have a completely different view of the world and the challenges people face. I have a whole lot more empathy than I did as a young journalist. Now, I look at each story in a more human way. I understand the implications of layoffs and horrible car wrecks. It hits my heart. It’s less about the deadline and getting the sound bite and more about listening and understanding.
It’s made you a better journalist.
There’s no question. It’s incredibly valuable to be a mom in this profession.