Donna L. Cole is an Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists award-winning journalist. She’s a multimedia reporter and hosts the 1430 Connection, a weekly radio show on WNAV. There is a journalism gene in her family and from the age of seven, she knew she wanted to be a journalist. Or maybe a veterinarian.
Donna sold her first photograph to United Press International while she was in high school. A year into her studies at Boston University, she decided she wanted something more and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where she worked in secure communications. While working at the Naval Communications Area Master Station Mediterranean, Donna was asked by her commanding officer to utilize her photography and journalism skills. She became the editor of The Bollettino newspaper and assisted with speech writing. With the exception of a terrorist bombing, Donna enjoyed the time she spent in the Navy – particularly while she was stationed on a NATO base (Headquarters Allied Forces Southern Europe) in Southern Italy. For her Naval service, Donna was awarded the National Defense Service Medal (Gulf War/Operation Desert Shield), Good Conduct Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy Overseas Service Ribbon and Cold War Recognition Certificate.
Donna completed her degree in journalism shortly after her time in the Navy. Her adventures have been many as a journalist – whether aboard Air Force One, in the field with Navy explosive specialists, on ships and helicopters and covering the stories of her community.
Prior to joining the staff at WNAV Radio in 2015, Donna was a freelance journalist and photojournalist for many years with The Capital-Gazette newspaper and Patch (American Online). She also wrote for Sea Services Weekly (Washington Navy Yard), Sergeants Magazine (Air Force Sergeants Association) and had a monthly humor column in Chesapeake Family Magazine. Her photographs have been used by The Washington Post, Washington Redskins, Capital-Gazette newspaper, Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Siemens, Bollinger Foundation, America’s VetDogs and the Annapolis Film Festival, among others.
The professional work Donna is most proud of came in the summer of 2018, when she broke news about a federally banned pesticide killing bald eagles – the story received global coverage. It raised awareness of the dangers of pesticide use and wildlife poisonings and it led to some change in the state of Maryland with pesticide licensing procedures. For this work, Donna received the Society of Professional Journalists DC Pro Chapter 2019 Dateline Award for Investigative Journalism and the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association Outstanding Enterprise Journalism award. Her work on this story has continued into 2019.
Donna has also received the following from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association:
- Outstanding Talk Show award (2016)
- Outstanding Public Affairs Show award (2017)
- Finalist Outstanding Public Affairs Show (2018)
- Finalist Multimedia/Online Journalism (2018)
- Finalist Outstanding Public Affairs Show (2019)
- Outstanding Digital News Project (2019)
- Outstanding Digital Feature Project (2019)
- Multimedia / Online Journalism (2019)
Donna is a breast cancer survivor. She often writes and speaks about a problem afflicting many, including her – mastectomy nerve damage, which can cause permanent, debilitating pain. Donna enjoys time with her family – her husband, daughter (who captured the photo used above) and dogs, as well as wildlife photography and traveling. She’s also a bald eagle nest monitor for the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership.
Donna’s favorite quote is by the late 60 Minutes Correspondent Bob Simon who said, “We would like to see wild animals survive. That’s one of the few editorial positions we can take and get away with. And anyone who disagrees with us – feel free to write a letter.”