How to do news that matters

Television news often gets a bum rap.  Broadcast journalists routinely get criticized for doing little more than covering car crashes and crime.  But there are plenty of TV reporters who push to tell the important stories, even if they have to convince their bosses to do it.

Bree Sison is passionate about covering politics and local government.  The weekend anchor and reporter for WEAR in Pensacola says she believes in the watchdog role of journalism.

“Primarily, I love it because it’s a challenge.  It requires out-thinking an opponent.  The power that our elected officers hold is vast and it needs to be checked up on occasionally,” Sison says. “It’s healthy for them to have oversight, and I enjoy being a part of the process that puts me on the side of our viewers.”

Sison says government meetings offer great stories, if you approach them the right way.

“My challenge is to make the impact of the issues discussed explained in an entertaining way.  Sometimes that seems impossible; other times, they make it easy for me.  The things that come out of the mouths of our elected leaders are often the most hilarious things I hear in a week,” Sison says.

Right now national politics is eating up lots of TV time, but Sison says a reporter may have to work even harder on local political news.

“The shifts and divisions in my community are more gradual and more difficult to spot.  They take really knowing your community to be able to cover effectively.”

Sison says she regularly pitches story ideas she finds at community meetings and grabs opportunities.

“Yesterday the newsroom management didn’t have a story idea for my nightside shift, so I grabbed a photographer and went down to the Tourist Development Council,” says Sison.  “I came out with great information our competitors didn’t have about the opening of a multi-million dollar baseball park being built in town.  Had I not checked the agenda or made the decision to go watch, our station wouldn’t have known the city is planning to spend $250,000 to bring a national entertainer in for a concert on opening day.

Sison says journalists with a nose for hard news should make sure that their bosses are aware of their interest in government and political stories and should be sure to keep asking to cover those topics.

She also suggests that reporters work on stories that matter to them on their own.

“It might take a lot of work to get the gem but it’s worth it when you beat your competition.”


1 comment for “How to do news that matters

  1. Playford
    January 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    LOL I like the part where she says, ”I came out with great information our competitors didn’t have about the opening of a multi-million dollar baseball park being built in town.

    What competitors? WEAR TV 3 is the only TV station in Pensacola. The next closest is 50 miles away in Mobile, Alabama.

    Now if you will excuse me I have to tune in to the 6:00 pm news, as Bree has a gripping story on exploding garbage in a garbage truck.

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