Former News10 staffers go from reporting news to shaping it [The Sacramento Bee, Calif.]
(Sacramento Bee (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jun. 20--Under the Capitol dome and in offices around town, people who recently left TV reporting jobs in Sacramento now shape the news behind the scenes.
Channel 10 (KXTV), in particular, has experienced major turnover in veteran on-air staff over the past two years. Unlike departing journalists from other stations, who have mostly stayed in the business and moved to other markets, many of these News10 alums remain in town, working for politicians, state agencies and public relations firms.
Marcey Brightwell, political reporter for seven years on KXTV, is one of them.
In January 2009, she moved from News10 to the Sacramento office of Grayling, the international public relations giant. Using her multimedia skills and long list of Capitol insider contacts, she formed the strategic communications division of the local office.
Or as she sees it: "I spent 20 years telling my stories. Now, I'm having a lot of fun helping other people tell their stories."
Besides Brightwell, the list of recently departed News10 personnel who remain in the area includes Dana Howard (reporter/weekend anchor 1992-2010, now with the California Environmental Protection Agency); Deborah Hoffman (reporter 1995-2009, now communications director for state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills), Alicia Malaby (reporter/weekend anchor 1999-2010, now communications director of the California Dental Association); and Mark Hedlund (reporter 1981-2009, now a communications official with the state Senate Majority Caucus).
In addition, Elissa Lynn, former chief meteorologist for News10, left the station after 10 years in 2006 to take a job with the California Department of Water Resources.
Brightwell said she routinely runs into ex-News10 colleagues in her current job. About her departure from KXTV, she said: "I had an opportunity too good to pass up. -- I wanted a new challenge."
Her client list includes TechAmerica, billed as the nation's largest high-tech trade association; the Beverage Container Recycling Coalition; and several organizations that advocate for Californians with developmental disabilities.
Brightwell says she helps them get their message out through the Internet, social media, print outlets and video production.
Some clients are multimedia-savvy. Others are new to the game.
"Social media is a new experience for some. -- There are so many new ways of communicating, so that's part of the challenge for getting the message across," she said. "I can tell you this: The competition for attention has never been greater."
While Brightwell is applying modern multimedia/social media communication skills in her job, former News10 reporter Hoffman said her work in Pavley's office writing newsletters and news releases required her to "relearn writing in print style, instead of broadcast style."
Her television experience helped, though, when it came to boiling down complicated issues into relatively few words.
Yet live news conferences, which Hoffman covered by the score as a TV reporter, presented challenges.
"It's one thing to show up for a press conference and to criticize it, and another thing to actually set one up," Hoffman said. "You worry about getting all the details right, and whether you've done all you can to spark interest in it.
"It's a huge advantage to know what kind of visuals the (TV) newspeople are going to want when you're doing that."
Hedlund, now a media consultant with the state Senate Majority Caucus, said he had an advantage coming into his new job last year after 28 years reporting for News10.
"I started in radio and had some print experience," he said.
Still, his TV experience remains key. He helps set up news conferences and also distributes audio and video shot by his in-house crew to various media outlets.
Hedlund said he misses longtime local news media colleagues, but adds: "I was definitely ready for this change. I think it's rare to find anyone who does something for three decades who isn't ready for some new challenges."
And there are some aspects of TV news reporting that Hedlund was glad to leave behind: "I certainly don't miss those middle-of-the-night call-outs, 6 a.m. phone calls and blizzards in the Sierra."
Call The Bee's Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.
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