This week, I am excited to feature our first journalist - and the first of our Leading Ladies from my alma mater, Harding University!
Ansley Watson is also the first person I have interviewed for this series who gets up even earlier than I do to go to work in the morning.
When you read about her, you'll see why. Ansley is a great example of how to pursue your dreams and go for the career you want. I am inspired by her adventurous spirit - and her understanding of the responsibility that journalists have to the communities they serve.
Let me introduce you to…
What do you do?
I am the Morning News LIVE Reporter/Multi-Media Journalist for WLUC-TV6 in Negaunee, Michigan (which is in the Upper Peninsula - the part of Michigan that is almost always forgotten about.) My job is to do live reports in the field about various people, businesses, events, and more within the community. Another large part of my job is to interview, record, edit, and produce pieces for our evening newscasts. It's a huge team effort to present the news for Upper Michigan, and that gets accomplished every single day.
Where do you live, where are you from, and where did you go to school?
I live in Marquette, Michigan. It's the largest city in the Upper Peninsula with a population of a little over 20,000. It's not huge by any means, but it sure does make it easier to get to know the community.
I am from Highland, Illinois, which is about 40 minutes east of St. Louis, Missouri. I graduated from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas in May 2015. Going to Harding was one of the best decisions I ever made. I gained incredible friendships, learned just as many lessons about life as I did for my degree, and left there with a grounded faith in Christ.
How did you get your job? Where did you work before TV6?
There really wasn't a special way that I got my job. I applied for a mass amount of reporting jobs around the U.S. About a week after applying, I got a call for an interview at TV6. It must have gone well, because I moved to Marquette a couple weeks after the interview. I had no connections at TV6, I didn't know the area, and knew not one person. However, I had faith that God would guide me to where I needed to be and I couldn't be more thankful. Before working at TV6, I was working as a media/marketing intern for a minor league baseball team called Gateway Grizzlies. This was a fantastic experience! I helped create promotional videos and took pictures during games that were then posted to social media. This gave me experience outside of broadcasting that I had never had before.
What is your typical work day like?
My typical day is not very typical for the average person. I wake up at 1:30 a.m. to get ready and get to work by 3. Crazy right?! I research my topic that I will be speaking about for that morning and write out my scripts of what I will say and what questions I will ask. Our morning show runs from 5-7 a.m. and throughout those 2 hours, I have three spots where I go live and talk about the subject matter. One of the many perks of this job is getting to meet and get to know a new person every day. I love it! After the morning show is over, I drive back to the station with my cameraman and usually do another story that will air later that evening. I typically leave work before noon. That leaves plenty of time to hit the beach during the summer!
What is the most difficult story you have had to cover?
One of the most difficult stories I had to report was on a little five-year-old girl with cancer. It was my first bigger story that I did when I started. She has such an impactful story and is so strong that I wanted to show that through my package. I didn't want to mess up any of the details or devalue the impact of childhood cancer. It was a lot of pressure but I am proud of the way the story came out and hopefully many were inspired by little Ainsley's story. (Yes, our names are very similar, which made it fun.)
What has been one of your favorite stories?
It's so incredibly hard to pick out one of my favorite stories. I have had the chance to meet so many neat and interesting people. Every other week I go to a lady's home for a cooking show. She goes by the name of "The Yooper Goddess." She has such a infectious personality and makes INCREDIBLE food. She is the definition of a true Yooper, which you might have to look up what that means...I know I did.
What were the last three books you read?
"The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown, "Grit to Great" by Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Koval, and "Muscle and a Shovel" by Michael Shank. All three of these books challenge you and make you get out of your comfort zone. I think we can all use some help in that area.
What inspires you?
It's inspiring to me to talk with down-to-earth individuals who realize the importance of living a life that revolves around loving and serving others. What's the point if you cannot love?
What tips would you offer people who want to work in television?
If you want to work in television, take every opportunity you are given. There are long hours, hard days, and you are under constant pressure. However, if you can set all the negative to the side and focus on being a positive light for those who don't get that, it's all worth it. People notice the good in you even if you don't see it yourself.
What advice would you offer to new grads starting their journalism careers?
For anyone starting in a journalism career: enjoy it. You won't even be able to count the amount of people you will speak with and the stories they will share with you. It's more than just writing a story; it's recording a part of someone's life. That's huge.