Clay Johnson

Documentary producer

Professional Experience:

After college I worked as the news director at a small market radio station that did a lot of local news. I covered everything from criminal trials to racial protests to the tobacco markets.

I then worked nine years as a news reporter and producer at three different network-affiliated television stations in the Carolinas.

I then accepted a position as deputy press secretary for the Governor of North Carolina, which I did for two years and was a great learning experience.

I then started my own production company and did freelance documentaries, videos and news magazine segments.

In 2004 I was hired as the documentary producer for WRAL-TV.

In 2008, Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy invited me to teach a course in television journalism which I did until 2017.

I am also a part-time contributing producer for UNC-TV/North Carolina Public Media.

Awards & Recognition:

Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award

National Sigma Delta Chi Award, Society of Professional Journalists

National Association of Broadcasters Service to America Award

Eight Emmy Awards

27 Emmy Nominations

Regional Edward R. Murrow Award

Multiple regional Radio Television Digital News Association and Associated Press awards

News Philosophy:

Accuracy and fairness is my top priority, while understanding that news is not just presenting information but making that information relevant to viewers by putting it in the context of human stories.


Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcast Journalism, University of South Carolina


Birmingham, Alabama

Hobbies, Interests & Community Involvement:

I love the outdoors and the water, so I love to sail, fish, just cruise around in a boat and swim. I also love hiking and cycling. In my community, I serve on the local tourism board and the historic commission.


Wife, Debra, and our dog and cat.

Likes Best About North Carolina:

The mountains and the coast. My favorite places in the state are Lake Lure and Ocracoke Island.

Most Memorable Assignments:​

Too many to count, but getting to fly in an F-16 with a US Air Force Thunderbirds pilot was by far the most amazing. It was the eve of a show they were doing that I was covering at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the pilot took me up and did many of the stunts they do in the show. He also let me try a couple, so I actually got to fly the plane!  I also earned my 9G pin for enduring 9G’s without passing out! The second most amazing was covering a space shuttle launch.