Regular listeners of the podcast know many of our guests say they always knew they wanted to be reporters from the time they started working on a school paper or writing their own family newsletter, sometimes as small children.
Amanda Denise is not like those reporters. She studied criminal justice in college after majoring in forensic science in high school and getting an internship during college at the Wake County Courthouse in North Carolina. After briefly considering law school and deciding instead to study and work as a paralegal, her passion for writing won out and Denise decided to try something different.
“I decided to get my masters degree in journalism. I thought, after graduating with my masters — I was valedictorian of the whole program — I thought, for sure, I can get a job in a news station. My master’s will speak for itself,” she says. “It did not. I got no after no after no. I was down and discouraged. I was 32. I just landed my first job last year.”
Denise says she had to “humble” herself and applied for an internship position with WCTI in Eastern Carolina, learning the job was really for a multimedia journalist. Early in the process, a senior staffer explained that, as this was a smaller market, the expectation was that young reporters come in, get experience, learn the trade, and then move on to their next larger opportunity.
Denise received a few weeks of training on shooting and editing, in addition to writing and preparing scripts for her evening broadcasts, but now she also serves as a weekend anchor on the station. As the Greenville bureau reporter, she covers everything that happens in that region, near the coast of North Carolina, filing stories and, on weekends, not getting back home for the day until 1 a.m.
“Looking at news reporting and anchors on TV before I was one, it looked so glamorous,” Denise says. “It’s not glamorous at all. We do so much work leading up to when we go live, it’s ridiculous. … It’s very challenging. I would tell anyone, if reporting is what they want to do, make sure it’s what you want to do. It’s not for the faint of heart. Your hours suck. I have Monday and Tuesday off. I’m trying to figure out how to work a social life into this work life.”
Still, Denise loves her work.
“One of my coworkers said your first year is survival,” she says. “I’ve been in survival mode. I’m learning all I can this first year. In my second year, I’m going full force. I’m going to try to incorporate more things into my live shots. I want to have a great reel. I want to have stuff I’m proud of.”