Author, News Media Consultant, On-Camera Coach
Clarence Jones teaches people to think like reporters. To get inside their heads, so they can win in their next interview, news conference or major crisis.
As an on-camera coach, he also teaches presentation skills, showing his clients what they look and sound like to others. Then he shows them how to change what they don't like, improve what they do like.
He knows what he's talking about. Nobody in America can match Clarence's experience and awards as one of nation's most honored and respected reporters in both newspapers and television; and his career (since 1984) as a media consultant, crisis manager, and on-camera coach.
Three-Time Winner - TV's Equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize
At WPLG-TV in Miami, he was the nation's first reporter for a local station to ever win three duPont-Columbia Awards (broadcasting's equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize).
In 1975 - For a five-part series, "Cargo of Fear" which showed how New York mobsters who had been thrown off the waterfront there simply moved to Miami and took control of the Miami docks. His series led to the largest federal investigation of labor corruption since the Jimmy Hoffa-Teamsters Union probe.
In 1978 - For a five-part series, "The Scandal at Ceta", which showed how a local official had set up a phony job-training organization to supposedly make underprivileged kids employable. Instead, he siphoned more than a million dollars a year from the federal government until Jones' series led to his conviction on 39 counts of grand larceny.
In 1981 - For a ten-part series, "The Billion Dollar Ghetto." This series assessed the anger that caused the 1980 riots that burned much of Liberty City and killed 18 people. The 1992 Rodney King/Watts riots in Los Angeles were a carbon copy of the Miami riots. The Miami violence began after a group of police officers were acquitted for beating black motorcyclist Arthur McDuffie to death after a high-speed chase. The cops then tried to make it look like McDuffie had been fatally injured when his motorcycle crashed. Jones' series tabulated federal aid programs in Miami's black community between the riots of 1968 and 1980. Progress was measured in eight different categories, to show that living in the black community had steadily deteriorated, despite a billion dollars in federal aid and politicians' pledges that things would be better. This was a very unusual series for a local TV station, averaging nine minutes in each night's newscast for 10 successive nights.
Before he went over to television, he was the first reporter in America to use a computer (in 1968) to analyze public records for a series of Miami Herald stories about the operation of the criminal courts there.
He began working full-time as a reporter for the Florida Times-Union while he was earning his journalism degree at the University of Florida.
Nieman Fellow at Harvard
In 1963, as one of the nation's most promising young journalists, he was granted a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University.
After Harvard, he went to the Miami Herald and became one of that paper's lead investigative reporters. He was part of a four-reporter Herald team that showed in 1965 how the Dade County Sheriff's Department had been corrupted by local numbers operations. After the indictment of the sheriff and his top aides, a referendum abolished the sheriff's department and created an appointed public safety director. Miami-Dade is the only county in Florida without an elected sheriff.
Clarence went on to become Washington correspondent for the Herald until 1970, when he took one of television's most unusual assignments.
From Washington Correspondent to TV Under Cover
With an assumed name and a shell corporation as his cover, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to work secretly for WHAS-TV. He was undercover for eight months, daily carrying hidden cameras and microphones into illegal bookmaking joints to document their operations. To protect his cover, only the owner of the station, the station manager and news director were aware of his assignment. The news director would bring his salary and expenses to his house in cash every Friday night.
He conducted extensive videotaped surveillance of gamblers' daily routines and contacts with law enforcement officers. In one secret recording, a high-ranking police official carefully explained the payoff system to a man who was asking how to open an illegal after-hours bar with prostitution and high-stakes gambling tables.
Jones came out from under cover with two, one-hour documentaries showing the powerful influence of illegal gambling in the community. His work there gained immediate national attention. Another documentary on corruption within the bail bond industry led Kentucky to completely rebuild the bail bond system. The state (instead of a bondsman) loaned you money to pay your bail.
Back to Miami, the Mob, Crooked Cops and Politicians
In 1972, Jones returned to Miami as investigative reporter for WPLG-TV, specializing in organized crime and official corruption. In addition to the three duPont-Columbia Awards, his work for WPLG-TV earned four regional Emmys. He received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for the "Billion-Dollar Ghetto" series.
While he was reporting for WPLG-TV, he also taught broadcast journalism for five years as an adjunct professor at the University of Miami.
In 1983, he published the first version of Winning with the News Media, originally titled How to Speak TV - A Self-Defense Manual When You're the News. It quickly caught on, and he left reporting to form his consulting firm. He works with corporate and government executives all over America, teaching them media strategy and on-camera skills.
Now in its Ninth Edition, Jones' book is used as a textbook in his seminars and by many corporations, government agencies and national associations who do their own media training.
War Stories From the Newsfront
In 2013, Jones published his memoirs -- They're Gonna Murder You - War Stories From My Life at the Newsfront. The title comes from the question most people asked when he was reporting for WPLG-TV -- "Aren't you afraid somebody's going to murder you?" The book reads like a murder mystery or spy novel as Jones takes you through his coverage of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, how he hid cameras and microphones to record hoodlums and con-men, and his investigations of murders that were almost surely committed by dirty cops.
Inventor, Tinkerer, Photographer
Jones is an inventor, tinkerer, photographer -- and prolific writer. He created a school newspaper when he was in the third grade, and built his first darkroom two years later. Author of five books now in print, he frequently publishes magazine articles showing how to make stuff he invents for his sailboat. His specialty is designing for $10 something that costs $200 at a boating store. His books, Sailboat Projects and its sequel, More Sailboat Projects, are collections of these articles.
Better News and Job Interviews
Another of his books, Webcam Savvy, is a handbook for job and news media interviews.
Preserving Family Stories for Future Generations
Filming Family History is his latest how-to book that explores how to persuade relatives to tell stories from their past, then organize the video to create a family documentary.