By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Jarrett Hill, the media observer who first flagged the similarities between elements of Melania Trump’s speech last night with that of Michelle Obama in 2008, has plenty of Atlanta ties.
And like many people in the media world nowadays, he has been itinerant over the past decade.
According to his Linkedin page, the northern California native is a Kennesaw State University graduate who worked as a production assistant and camera operator at the local NBC affiliate 11 Alive (WXIA-TV) from 2006 to 2010. He interned at PR firm Fletcher Martin and CNN and produced a Sirius/XM radio show before moving to Los Angeles in 2010. He was also a strategic marketer for AIDS Walk Atlanta for several years.
Once on the West Coast, he did some post production for “America’s Next Top Model,” was a cruise director for Celebrity Cruises and became a production assistant for the briefly revived “Ricki Lake Show.” He also did casting for TBS’s Howie Mandel reality show “Deal With It.”
He worked briefly in Tampa Bay as a digital producer in 2014 and 2015 and has contributed to Huffington Post as a blogger for several years on subjects such as homophobia and the Orlando shootings. He has also hosted a podcast called Back2Reality.
Hill started his own interior design firm last year Jarrett Hill Design. On his Twitter page, he also describes himself as a “DIY enthusiast” and “Dope Cook.”
I reached out to him via email and Facebook but he’s obviously busy. He did speak to the New York Times and said he had been recently laid off. He was in a Los Angeles Starbucks watching the speech and one of Melania Trump’s lines – “strength of your dreams” – reminded him of Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech.
“I thought, ‘That’s legit plagiarism,’” said Hill, who described himself as a supporter of President Obama. “‘Someone took this piece and plugged in their own information.’”
With all the heat following his discovery, he spent the day interacting with media, including visits to CNN, “Access Hollywood” and KTLA-TV.
“He’s a really sharp guy,” said Shawn Reynolds, who worked at 11 Alive with Hill in the late 2000s. “We Facebook message from time to time. I was on Twitter last night and noticed people re-tweeting him. I always knew he was destined for bigger things but who knew he’d change the narrative on the first night of the RNC?”
The story was still leading the New York Times website Tuesday afternoon. And it was a prime topic on news networks Tuesday morning.
Evelyn Mims, who worked at 11Alive for almost 39 years until 2014 as a producer and community relations specialist, remembered Hill was bursting with ideas and was very enthusiastic about social media in its relative early days. “He worked all the shifts,” she said. “But he realized he couldn’t move up. So he left. He’s in a better place.”
Former education reporter Donna Lowry, who took a buyout in the spring, in a text recalled he was a good writer and very funny to boot.
Fellow reporter Keith Whitney, who also left at the same time as Lowry, called him “one of those brilliant creative young people that you’re glad to see get into journalism. Loved working with him! He was a floor director then. Funny and passionate. We will be hearing more from him in the future.”
Here’s Hill’s Tweet that caused the ruckus: