When he first started working for CNN about 15 years ago, Warren County High School class of 1998 grad Andrew Iden distinctly remembers sitting down with two of his peers at the cable news giant. One had received her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, while the other had attained his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.
Both universities are considered to be in the premier when it comes to journalism, and “all three of us had the exact same job,” Iden remembers.
“It was proof to me that it isn’t always about the most prestigious school,” he adds.
Rather, success can stem from taking the smartest path for the individual. And for Iden, that was taking dual-enrollment classes while a senior in high school, and spending about two years studying at LFCC before transferring to Shepherd University to attain a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and journalism.
His mother, Beth Iden, was a reporter at the Warren Sentinel in the 1980s.
“She would pick me up from school on the way to covering a house fire,” Iden recalls.
He, too, would write for the Sentinel when in high school and at LFCC. He covered sports, and did some reporting for The Winchester Star.
“I grew up kind of enamored with the news,” Iden says. “Since I was a little kid, I always watched the news at 5. I always knew what was going on.”
He always thought he would go to work for a Virginia paper, covering sports. After graduating from Shepherd, he applied to newspapers all over the commonwealth without any luck.
“As kind of a Hail Mary, I applied for an entry-level job at CNN,” Iden says.
He was hired as a video journalist, and was responsible for handing news anchors scripts, pointing to cameras and the like.
Iden would go on to spend nine years on Nancy Grace’s show, and currently produces Crime & Justice with Ashleigh Banfield on HLN, a part of CNN. It airs from 6-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday.
“We cover crime stories that kind of resonate with people – murder mysteries, big, high-profile trials,” Iden says. “People consume crime and justice news ravenously. I coordinate throughout the day – and throughout the show – video content that we use to illustrate that story.”
He has to be prepared to drop all the work he has been doing when big news breaks, such as the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14. Iden says the show’s crew had to switch gears an hour-and-a-half before airtime.
“Every day is different,” he says. “My primary job is kind of wrangling that content for the show.”
Iden has also been able to do some newswriting at CNN.
When he thinks back to his college days, Iden says he wasn’t ready to go from high school to a four-year university.
“The beauty of LFCC for me was by the time I got to Shepherd, I knew how college worked,” he says. “I think that’s one of the main struggles people have when they go away to school. LFCC helped me to understand the nuts and bolts of how to approach college.
“And, I enjoyed my time there because I got to meet a lot of great people.”
One of Iden’s favorite professors was History Professor Emeritus Joseph Whitehorne.
“He might be one of the smartest professors I ever had,” Iden says. “He had an amazing recall for American history minutiae.”
His brother Win, and sister-in-law, Kristin Iden, also attended LFCC. Kristin Iden works in LFCC’s office of human resource management, and Win is the assistant director of the Northern Virginia 4-H Center in Front Royal.