Uncertainty, change, disruption. These are all things we typically try to avoid. But in the fast-paced news biz, they are things you seek out and must learn to embrace. Some people love the uncertainty of what the day will bring. Because quite frankly, you never know. For me, it came in many shapes and forms over the years as an Anchor/Reporter in Bluefield, WV and Evansville, IN, to the Daybreak anchor at WVEC TV-13. From a lunchtime NAVY jet crash into an apartment building to a tornado tearing through rural Kentucky, to an attack on a Navy ship docked in Yemen for a port stop. And of course, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil in our nation’s history with planes crashing at three sites, on the same day within a two-hour time span. These are all stories that shape our lives, and I was part of them and many more as a journalist.
Something as simple as a turn in the weather, and BOOM, you’re in the middle of an 8-hour on-air marathon of juggling reporter live shots with no scripts and little information other than what you’re hearing over-the-air from reporters in the field, from minute to minute! You have to be an ad-lib queen to make it work. All of this leads to disruption. Disruption of your day, disruption of your shoot schedule for that special report you lined up weeks ago, disruption of your diet. All you’re going to get to eat while tethered to the set, anchoring for hours on end, is what the station provides. Usually pre-packaged snacks or fatty fast-food. And if you are in t he field reporting – Fuget abat it! It’s what you threw into your lunch bag that day, and that’s it! But man, when you’re in it – YOU ARE IN IT! The adrenaline is pumping, your mind is whizzing, and you basically forget, that just maybe, oh no, you definitely have to pee.
Then there’s change. It’s funny how lots of things are the same every single day. The difficult log-in on your computer, the teleprompter malfunctions, the cameras, the hum of the scanners in the newsroom, the never-ending complaints about pay and morale. But the information is never the same. It changes from second-to-second, minute-to-minute, day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year, and before you know it, you’re a mini expert on the history of your community — the backstory on the backstory of the backstory, of what you’ve covered so many times.
Next thing you know, you’ve spent nearly 20 years learning a teeny little bit about an endless number of topics. House mortgages, firefighting, computer hacking, designer jeans, getting a properly sized bra, laser hair removal, heart disease, breast milk banks, special forces, sequestration, the BRAC commission, flood zones, and on and on and on! Whether in the field as a reporter or in the studio as an anchor, YOU are the source of information that helps people make decisions about their family’s budget, their children’s educations, the safety of their home, even who their next president will be!
There are perks! Like emceeing events where you can make a difference, helping raise money for charity.
Sometimes you also get to meet famous people. Oh, H-E-L-L-O Derek Hough from Dancing with the Stars!
How about spending the night on an aircraft carrier to shoot stories and getting to watch flight ops – from the flight deck!
Wouldn’t you like to ride around in, take photogrpahs of and review luxury cars for a weekly segment. I did, for five years! This is me with an Aston Martin DBS Volante — one of my many crushes.
Then, there was the 8 week FBI Citizen’s Academy and getting to be front and center during the bomb suit demonstration! Try kneeling down and getting up in one of those suits, it’s heavy!
For me, flying with the world famous Blue Angel’s – the U. S. Navy’s flight demonstration team was the proverbial “icing on the cake”! There’s no rollercoaster in the world that can give an equivalent thrill!
We terribly overuse the word “awesome”, but journalism is an AWESOME responsibility. And most of the time, an awesome job. I have and always will consider it a valuable community service.
What it isn’t — is glamourous or a get rich scheme. No, news people aren’t celebrities who get their hair and make-up done when they arrive at work by a team of beauty professionals. For the last eight years, I did mine in my car, at stop lights, at 3 in the morning, on my way to work. Our clothing, shoes and fabulous accessories aren’t free. That stuff only happens at the very highest levels in the news biz. We are regular, middle-class stiffs, putting our pants on, one leg at a time just like everyone else. The big difference is – we do it all in the public eye and with a glossy, TV-ready smile.
Last fall, I said farewell to the reporter lifestyle and transitioned my broadcast communication skills and broad, multi-platform media experience into the public relations realm. I now serve as a public relations counselor for Meridian Group. As part of the PR team, I help to both foster positive ‘brand recognition’ and develop strategies to generate media coverage for clients such as STIHL Inc., Wounded Warrior Project, Independent We Stand, and the Virginia Beach Public Library, all while growing relationships with new and existing contacts.
Here’s to uncertainty, change, disruption and now — the best those three can offer, with the start of a new career and adventure. Carpe diem!