By Barbara Ciara, WTKR NewsChannel 3
This year I’m celebrating 36 years as a Journalist and I’m proud to say that I still hop out of bed every morning with eager anticipation of what the day will bring.
On many occasions viewers will strike up a conversation with me when I’m out and about to discuss news events or submit their own story ideas. Some of our best feature stories, and hard hitting investigations began with a call or email from interested viewers. For some of us journalists who have been around for a while it’s this kind of interaction with community which inspired the phrase, “giving a voice to the voiceless”.
Recently I was in line for my morning ritual of picking up a cup of coffee before work when a stranger in line, who said she worked at a nearby eatery, volunteered this: “I know you are on television, but I don’t watch the news, it’s too depressing.”
I tried to imagine myself stopping by her restaurant and telling the manager, ‘I don’t eat here at your establishment, it gives me gas.’
Mother used to say, “Just because you think it, doesn’t mean you have to say it”. So I kept that snarky retort to myself.
This isn’t the first time I have engaged a person about the content of television news, so I asked the gentle viewer to tell me specifically what her experience is of a newscast.
She said it’s ‘crime, crime, and more crime’. She recalled there was a popular song titled ‘Dirty Laundry’ that defined news as sensational and tawdry.
Like any profession you can find examples of how colleagues are poster boys for creating a negative image for the majority of us who strive to do the right thing. I like to think that the parody embarrassed the media morons who truly represented the lyrics of the song.
Here’s another view.
Yes, we do report on crime in the Hampton Roads area and as a result of featuring surveillance pictures and videos, we assist law enforcement in catching criminals and getting them off the streets. But that is just a small portion of the content on NewsChannel 3.
If you weren’t watching you missed the tireless efforts of WTKR NewsChannel 3 reporter Todd Corillo to get Jonathan Montgomery freed from prison after spending four years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. When the system slowed to a crawl in freeing Montgomery after his accuser recanted her false story of rape, Todd went straight to the Governor to push for a conditional pardon. Following that interview Montgomery was freed the following day.
If you weren’t watching you missed Mike Mather’s riveting interviews of Veterans who served on board the USS Enterprise, moved to tears remembering how they risked their lives to save the ship and their fellow sailors when fire threatened to take down the Big E back on January 14th, 1969. As the ship and crew prepare for it to be inactivated, it’s important to tell their stories and shine a light on their service and sacrifice.
And it certainly wasn’t bad news in Newport News when we told the story of how 4-year-old Jailah Driver, who called 911 and saved her mother’s life. She was so smart and cute viewers emailed us and said they wanted to reach through the television screen to give her a hug.
It’s also heartwarming to report on the genuine goodness of people in the business community. The Southern Bank donation that helped replace an Honor Guard’s ancient 1986 GMC Van. The donation allowed them to continue their volunteer services at the funerals of the fallen.
NewsChannel 3 is also launching ‘Operation Wish list’, where we ask viewers to join with us to provide Christmas toys and clothing for children who live in area homeless shelters. With your help we will make a difference for families when they need it the most.
News content also keeps you safe with Weather warnings, traffic information, sports specials, and we highlight people who do the right thing in their communities. We honor them with a “People Taking Action” award.
In an effort to keep you informed we are compelled to tell you about the calamity and chaos of the human race. It ranges from politics and government to literacy and lottery winners and everything in between.
I love what we do. Being a witness to history and occasionally creating positive change makes the long hours, working when others are resting, running into the eye of the storm when everyone is running away worth it.
An old college professor, whose name I have long forgotten, gave my journalism class lasting advice. He said the true measure of a good story will bare up if there is a positive response to the following three questions: Is it true, is it fair, is it necessary?
For any journalist worth his salt, it’s advice that will build a credible career.