From Deacon to news detective

Lee Ferran (left) and Brian Ross, ABC News' chief investigative correspondent

As an investigative producer at ABC News, Lee Ferran (’08) is too humble to admit that he lives a life envied by career journalists and teenagers alike.

“Every day I write about things I loved as a 14-year-old: spies, special operations and general international intrigue,” said Ferran, who lives in New York. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Each day, he typically writes several investigative articles for The Blotter on, where he has covered a wide range of breaking stories – from terrorists targeting sports fans in Kenya to the foiled assassination plot against the Saudi Arabian ambassador.

But Ferran, who majored in history and double-minored in international studies and computer science, says the story arc of his career wasn’t always clearly defined.

In fact, the only journalism class he took at Wake Forest was advanced journalism. But Ferran says his instructor, Justin Catanoso, made a lasting impression.

“Sometimes he would challenge us to read an article in that day’s paper and develop four additional story angles,” Ferran said. “It was difficult, but now I see how enterprise reporting is a great way to distinguish yourself from a wealth of contributed content and a saturated 24-hour news cycle.”

Before joining ABC News, Ferran wrote for his hometown paper, The Gainesville Times in Georgia, and contributed to The Old Gold and Black before landing an internship at the summer before his senior year. His hard work ultimately led to his hiring at Good Morning America and a one-way ticket to New York from his parents upon graduation.

“The thing that stood out with me about Lee was his curiosity and his enthusiasm,” said Catanoso, director of the journalism program. “Journalism was new to him. But he seemed to intuitively understand how much fun and how rewarding it could be to have access to talented people doing interesting things. The stories he wrote in that class reflected his enthusiasm. I’m not surprised to hear he’s doing so well.”

For fellow Deacons considering a career in journalism, Ferran offers the following advice:

  • Get experience – Majors and minors are much less important than the work you do, so apply for internships early.
  • Emulate talent – Observe the habits and model the approach of the successful veterans around you.
  • Be flexible and willing to try anything – Never underestimate grunt work; done well, it can distinguish you from your peers in a heartbeat.
  • Meet as many people as you can to get noticed – Volunteer for assignments that go above and beyond to show enthusiasm and competence.

When he’s not hard at work for one of the world’s premiere news outlets, Ferran plays in a local rock band, The Thieves, and tries to travel internationally whenever he can … again, much to the envy of both adolescents and other reporters.

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