This Reporter Has Come a Long Way a Year After Viral Bison Video Put Him on the Map
"I want to get to a point where I say, all the struggle I went through was worth it. Even with the bison video, I am not there yet," Deion Broxton told Inside Edition Digital.
The footage of a Montana reporter being chased by bison in Yellowstone National Park came just as the coronavirus pandemic was shutting down nearly every city in America. People were trapped inside fearing the worst and the viral video sparked some much-needed joy.
A year after the video was posted, reporter Deion Broxton took to Twitter to get candid about the clip that made him a household name.
“A year later. I get tired of talking about this video. But it’s a reminder of my journey. I couldn’t get a job on TV because of my hood/Baltimore accent. I spent thousands on a speech coach. Fast forward, this week I learned I won an award from the Iowa Broadcast News Association,” he wrote on Twitter on March 25.
The video was a gift and a curse for Broxton.
“I don't want to be remembered as the Bison guy, I want to be remembered as a good journalist,” he said. “A lot of people have said, ‘the Bison video is your introduction to people to see who you are.’”
The much-needed smile and laughter at a serious time was welcome, he says.
“Laughter is something we all love, so that's when it's genuine . . . I will always, always try my best to tell people 'thank you' for that, because then it makes me happy that I put smiles on so many people's faces, because we all know those people that, when you're having a bad day, that one person you talk to that makes you laugh and makes you feel better,” he told Inside Edition Digital. “I'm getting goosebumps just talking about it. That was the best thing about it.”
However, for Broxton, his journey to launching his career after graduating from college in 2015 has been a long, hard road that is no laughing matter. Despite recently becoming an award-winning journalist, Broxton wants the world to know that his path to where he is — and where he wants to go — will not be marked by a 10-second viral clip.
Broxton grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and says the city shaped who he is.
“I know we have a bad rep with ‘The Wire’ and stuff like that, but that city is full of so many people, so many different characters, and it raised me,” he said.
Broxton said he grew up poor with his mother doing everything she could to provide for her family. He saw things many young adults and children should never have to see, like seeing people overdose and the systematic racism that did not provide him with the tools to succeed.
“I went to predominantly Black schools from kindergarten to eighth grade. These were private schools, but these were schools still in the hood. I still had a taste of what kids experience in Baltimore public schools,” he recalled.
When he went to high school, which was mostly white, he felt like an outsider.
“I had the option of going to the private Black school, but you don't want to say it, but there's a perception that you can get a better education from a white school versus a Black school. I went to the white school and it was a struggle,” he said.
Broxton recalled how he took the bus to school while his white classmates were driving in nice cars, saying, “there was shame in that.”
“I didn't feel that shame in elementary and middle school, because even though it was a private school, we were still poor for the most part. It was a cheaper private school. It was Black, so you know the income is lower in Black communities,” he added. “I remember Christmas, I didn't get much for Christmas, and my friends would come to school with iPod Touches, and it just added fuel to me wanting to be successful.”
He did all he could to help his mother pay the bills and keep his dream alive by the time he was in college. After graduating, he said his family could not afford to take him out to eat like his classmates, so he and a friend got a $5 pizza from a Little Caesars and he said he “felt so low” and tgave him the drive he needed to change the world around him.
Yet one thing that stood in his way was how he spoke.
“I never knew Baltimore had an accent until I went to college,” he said. “I went to college, my friends made fun of my accent all the time, and to me, I didn't think it was a Baltimore accent, I thought it was just the way I talked.”
He said between 2015 and 2017, he applied to nearly 80 jobs around the country as a broadcast journalist. One station manager from Gainesville, Florida, told him he was interested in hiring him but was apprehensive because of his accent. It was the first time he heard an honest reason for not getting a call. Weeks later, when Broxton was told he didn’t get the job in Florida, he hired a speech pathologist, which cost him $2,000, and worked on how he spoke. Suddenly, things changed.
He was hired by a station in Montana and was fulfilling his dream. Montana was an adjustment for him in every sense, but he said he enjoyed his time there. In early 2020, he posted the video that launched countless smiles but also put his face on the map for reasons he didn’t intend.
When he covered President Trump in Montana, he would get anxiety as he saw national news teams in his area, saying, “my first thought is, these people are good.” He felt like he had to make sure that the national news teams, or anyone for that matter, didn’t just view him as the guy from a silly viral video.
Two months after he posted the bison video, he took a job in Iowa, where he currently is.
“When I first got to Iowa, it's just like these people are thinking, ‘He's just a viral sensation. Let's see if he can actually report,’” he said. “That anxiety hung over me for months. I just wanted to prove myself, like I am a good reporter. I earned this job. I didn't get this job because of a video.”
Being a Black reporter in the broadcast-news industry, Broxton says he has to work twice as hard already as his white colleagues, but now he feels that, because of the bison clip, he will have to work even harder to prove himself.
“Struggling to eat every day in college, that's hard, but now I'm making money. I'm paying my own bills and stuff. Life is easier now than it is a few years ago,” he said. “When you've had to fight for everything that you got, it makes you a stronger person. It's all perspective. I get angry a lot in this industry, but my worst day in this industry would never compare to someone's worst day in Baltimore, where I come from. My journey, it's rewarding, but I try to remember where I come from and keep myself humble.”
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