Emmy Winner, Full-Time Mom

Jane Clayson Johnson, 2000 Alumni Achievement Award winner, College of Fine Arts And Communications

Jane Clayson Johnson has been a broadcast journalist and anchorwoman. She made the decision to interrupt her career when it was in full-swing to become a full-time mother. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes casually called the Mormon Church.

Jane Clayson was born August 25, 1967, in Sacramento, California. She started out as a violin major at Brigham Young University, expecting to follow a career in music. At BYU a friend urged her to stop in at the university's classical radio station, KBYU-FM, and that led to a position there. She changed her major to broadcast journalism, and her part-time stint at KBYU eventually led to a part-time position reporting local news for KSL television in Salt Lake City during her senior year. [1] After her graduation, KSL offered her a full-time job.

Clayson worked for KSL for six years, earning accolades along the way. While at KSL, she earned an Emmy for her story about a boy from Park City with cancer who traveled to California to die, and an Edward R. Murrow Award for her coverage of Utah doctors donating services to children with disabilities in China. Clayson gained the attention of a New York talent agent, whose connections got her a position in Los Angeles as an ABC News correspondent for Good Morning America and World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. Her first major assignment was the O. J. Simpson murder trial. More high-profile assignments followed.

While her career flourished her personal life foundered. She married and divorced. She had entered college hoping for marriage, and her blossoming career had chosen her, she hadn't chosen it. Life was upside down, causing her serious introspection.

“I had this career, which I had never planned on and, frankly, didn’t always want. . . . I had to learn to put everything I had on the altar of God—my fears, my anxiety, my hopes, my dreams—give it all to Him. When I did that, things changed. . . . It was a very pivotal moment for me.”

Jane was hired by CBS to co-host The Early Show. While she was packing to move to New York City, she received a phone call from Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. At the time, he supervised the Church’s public affairs work. Elder Maxwell told Jane he had felt prompted to offer her a blessing before she began her co-anchor position in New York City. One directive in his blessing was particularly poignant for Jane: “You must allow the Lord to use you. Sometimes you will not understand what He is doing or why He is doing it, but do not question. You must allow Him to guide you and direct you.” [2]

The routine of being a co-anchor was physically and emotionally taxing. Her day started at 3:45 a.m. During the two-hour show she conducted interviews with politicians, celebrities, and newsmakers; afternoons and evenings were filled with speaking engagements, interviews, promotional appearances, and research. She dropped into bed at 10 p.m. and started all over when the alarm rang.

Jane was an influence for good at work, and she thought she was being used by the Lord through her career, but she longed to be a wife and a mother. She met Mark Johnson, a recent convert, in 2003. The day after he proposed, she received an offer at another network that included a four-year contract, prime-time opportunities, and a big paycheck. Jane turned down the lucrative offer, let her contract with CBS expire, and left her television career. Colleagues thought she was crazy.

“I know what it’s like to live what many people would call a glamorous, interesting, intellectually stimulating life, and I can say with the full conviction of my heart—with full power in my soul—that nothing is more important than the work I’m doing within the four walls of my own home, with my children. Nothing. No interview, no award, no network TV program—nothing.” Jane says, “Most people won’t remember Jane Clayson the news anchor or network correspondent, but Mark and [my] children will be changed forever because of Jane the wife and mother.”

Jane is portrayed in the 2011 book Women of Character by Susan Easton Black and Mary Jane Woodger.

Full Name: 
Jane Clayson Johnson
Grad Year: 
BA 1990
Fine Arts and Communications
Broadcast Communications
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