By Adam Kluger | Photos by Benno Klandt
The international channel i24NEWS broadcasts in English, Arabic and French around the world, with its biggest bureau in Jaffa Port, Israel. From the New York anchor desk in their Times Square studio, Michelle Makori gets ready to report the news… after a cup of coffee.
“I’m a good multi-tasker…but I’m useless before my cup of coffee in the morning.”
A typical workday for Makori is anything but typical– and usually lasts at least 12 hours!
Drawing on my business background I always include an economic focus in my show.
“I start scouring various news sites from the minute I wake up, sending suggestions to my team as I run my morning errands, which on a good day includes the gym. At 12 o’clock we have an editorial meeting for my show where we lay out the rundown—choosing our top stories and guest segments. I really like to work closely with our guest bookers to get a good range of experts and analysts…full spectrum of voices. Then it is typically a number of meetings about what the reporters are being assigned to…suggesting assignments…planning for future shows, planning for my other show.
I like to immerse myself in the interview research. I really enjoy that. And much like other journalists and TV people, I kick into high gear as the deadline nears and its crunch time. It’s a non-stop day basically from 8:30am until 8:30pm of multi-tasking and juggling a number of things and then after I wrap up the show I try to have what we call, “a life.”(laugh)
Makori is the Anchor and Editor in Chief of i24’s US flagship show ‘Clearcut with Michelle Makori’ airing every week day at 7pm EST. She’s also the Producer, Anchor and Editor-in-Chief of ‘Beyond The Story with Michelle Makori’, which is going to be launching in late March.
i24NEWS itself launched in the U.S. last February 13th. Makori has been there from the very beginning to help shape the network’s U.S. channel.
“I was the first hire in the US by the CEO Frank Melloul. I met him in Israel when I was there for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary a couple of years ago and was very impressed. He reached out when he was ready to launch i24News in the US. In less than 3 months we made it happen. There were five of us, the pioneers or P5 as we call ourselves and we launched the U.S channel from scratch…going from meetings in coffee shops to assembling a whole news team and crew to then putting four hours live on TV. That was a fantastic experience. It’s remarkable that we are having our one year anniversary soon.”
Makori says that American television news viewers are eager for a channel like i24 NEWS that offers objective, straight forward news reporting.
“We’re trying to capitalize on the fact that viewers are disillusioned with the media… particularly the news industry, it is generally just punditry –you watch American cable at night and for four hours straight the broadcast will go on about just one story–which is probably some negative Trump-linked story, and it will be back to back coverage of one issue with people opining or arguing. You watch MSNBC and it’s an echo chamber of the same sentiment usually over just one topic from show to show –you don’t get to see the news of the day –you don’t get to learn about what’s going on outside the U.S., you don’t get fact-based reporting just punditry…but on i24 news we give you fact-based reporting, insight and analysis. If you’re watching my show you are going to get a global picture, beyond just one or two U.S. stories. On my show the emphasis is on the U.S. and the Middle East, and more importantly how they intersect. We like to say ‘what happens in the middle East doesn’t stay in the Middle east’ like it or not it impacts the world. The world is so interlinked that its vital to include news from China, Europe, Africa – I want to give the global perspective. I also place a strong emphasis on the economy and I have a dedicated business news segment every show because it all goes back to money anyway, money makes the world go round.”
At I24 NEWS, Makori combines her business journalism experience with Wall Street credibility. Being a FINRA licensed financial adviser (Series 7) and having worked with the Beryl Consulting Group, GFI and now Context Summits.
Michelle joined i24NEWS from CGTN (China Global Television Network) where she was a key member of the team that launched the U.S. based global English Channel. Makori was the New York-based Anchor and Producer of “Global Business America”, CGTN’s flagship global economic and business news show.
“Turns out I like start up TV News, I was part of the team that launched what is now CGTN in the US .I was one of the first ten hires in America. I guess I am TV news channel pioneer.” ( laughs).
Before joining CCTV now CGTN in December of 2011, Michelle was an anchor and reporter for Bloomberg TV for five years as well as a reporter with CNN Money.
“Bloomberg TV was my break that got me from South Africa to the US. When I was 7 years old I decided I wanted to move to New York and become an international News Anchor and Bloomberg made that happen for me. They sponsored my work visa and later my green card and my five plus years at Bloomberg were incredible and so educational”
On her nightly show Clearcut with Michelle Makori, the telegenic dynamo is particularly adept at explaining how world events can significantly impact the economy.
“Drawing on my business background I always include an economic focus in my show.
I like to keep my finger on the pulse of the financial world through my work with Context Summits … yes, seeing as I have so much spare time ( laughs), I also host summits for Context which is the leader in Alternative Investment conferences. There I get to interview some of the leading portfolio managers and some of the brightest minds in finance so that gives me an inside perspective and insight that I can use on my show.
If you watch my show you’re going to get a range of headlines and stories from around the world from business to technology to politics …. fact-based analysis and multiple perspectives, I like to cut to the chase and extract what you need to know, straight forward, no BS, its ClearCut “
Before joining Bloomberg TV and moving to New York in 2005, Michelle was one of the main anchors and producers for SABC Africa Television, based in Johannesburg South Africa and broadcasting throughout the African Continent. Makori’s accolades include winning the Harambee African Reporter of the Year Award in 2004 for her work on micro-lending enterprises. One of her biggest moments was interviewing South African President Nelson Mandela.
“I interviewed Nelson Mandela …it was an extraordinary experience … speaking to Nelson Mandela, the man just exuded energy that was sublime in a way, healing almost, there was just a calmness about him that radiated , now it sounds ridiculous but I was first taken aback by how tall he was and his stature. He had tremendous presence and just exuded a very positive energy.”
As a long-time South African resident Makori says she loves watching animal programs on TV to relax after her 12 hour work days. Like the recent broadcast of Planet Earth 2 on BBC world.
“I like everything from trashy reality TV to serious documentaries and other news shows but I always have the TV on in the background and I love shows about animals and nature, I have that on most weekends. I find it very relaxing. It’s my African connection. I used to go on safaris all the time in Africa. I’ve seen the ‘big five’, as we call them, up close: lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, buffalo. I have seen hippos, wildebeest, kudus all kinds of bucks, crocodiles you name it, I have been on countless game drives it’s what we do in Africa …I had a situation once when I was on safari with my father and some elephants started charging the car and we had to get out of there in reverse…that was quite eventful…hey, you’re in their territory.”
While in South African territory, Michelle really made her mark, she was voted as one of the ‘Top 30 Women’ by Cosmopolitan magazine (SA edition) and one of the ‘Sexiest Women in the World’ by FHM magazine’s SA readers.
To stay in amazing shape and maintain balance in her life, Makori hits the gym and enjoys an active social life.
“I play squash. I’m learning ballroom dancing .. and in theory I go to the gym three times a week. I have an insatiable intellectual curiosity and love to read and attend TED talks. I’m a social creature. You might even see me at parties in the Hamptons or hosting a charity event. I love to travel. My family is scattered around the globe. I’m always on a plane somewhere – anytime I have some free time.”
Whatever she does, she does well. Michelle’s even a model daughter who always calls her mom in South Africa every day to check in!
“I’m a good Jewish daughter.” (laughs) and my mom is an even better Jewish mother , she watches the show every night.”
Michelle was born in Haifa and moved to Johannesburg, South Africa as a baby where she grew up until moving to New York in 2005.
“I am very proud to now be a US citizen. So I’m an African American Israeli as I like to say, I used to say I am an African American Israeli working for the Chinese. I have been lucky to have been exposed to various cultures and countries and I always maintain that global perspective when reporting the news or interviewing people.”
Michelle speaks 5 languages and holds a Post Graduate Honors Degree in Media Studies and Journalism (with distinction), and a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Law and Psychology, both from South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand. She also graduated top of her class from South Africa’s Damelin Business School.
A native born Israeli, Makori sees a number of clear trends in the Middle East.
“Probably the most significant thing that is happening right now is the shift in the Middle East in the sense of new alliances. Israel and the Saudis are developing a clandestine relationship. They are not public about the strengthening ties but all indications are there that they are cooperating on a number of fronts and I think that’s a huge game changer… The situation with Iran is one of the enemy of my enemy is my friend and that common threat of Iran has brought the Israelis and the Saudis together and that could be very significant in terms of checking Iranian influence and potentially shaping how the Palestinian situation gets resolved…or doesn’t get resolved.”
“Also, the relationship between Israel and the U.S. has never been better… Netanyahu and Trump have a very close relationship. There is a clearly a chemistry between them….and shared interests.”
“Trump saying he will move the US embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, acknowledging that reality… has been very significant. He actually kept the same campaign promise made by Bush, Clinton and Obama. There is no doubt about it that’s it’s a far stronger relationship than under Obama. Some of the Obama administration’s positions could prove to be severely detrimental to Israeli safety and security – case in point the Iran Nuclear deal. That is a bad deal. Iran was in a compromised position, feeling the pinch of the sanctions and Obama had the leverage and made a deal which gave Iran billions of dollars up front , instead of ‘anytime/ anywhere’ inspections they got ‘sometimes / some places’ inspections , military sites aren’t accessible and of course the biggest issue is the sunset clause which allows Iran in 2025 to go ahead with its Uranium enrichment program ….I agree with Trump on that one – it’s a terrible deal.”
So, will President Trump become a huge Michelle Makori fan?
“Well I think the President will find that I am certainly not the mainstream media. I am fair. Of course, he is welcome on the show. I am happy to give President Trump my opinions on a range of issues. I can even help him finesse his Twitter game (laughs)
Would President Trump like i24 NEWS?
The attitudes and perspectives are very varied across our shows. He might or he might not. We are fact based and objective. We deliver both sides. We are not trying to create an echo chamber of similar opinions. We are aiming to give facts, analysis and perspective. Viewers are fed up with the bias on the news.”
i24NEWS is available on Altice ,Cablevision, Spectrum ,Optimum, Suddenlink, Charter, Mediacom and Roku and online at: