First time to be an anchor without speaking Chinese

My first time to be a cut-in anchor means a lot to me. I was the Chinese news anchor at Newsy. Now I’m proud that I’m able to anchor, but not just for Chinese program. It’s something that I’ve been expecting for a long time. To me, this position is much more difficult than other people. To me, it means a lot, a lot of work.

The biggest challenge is my accent. Although I still have it, I did improve a lot. Some of my friends who happened to see my cast told me that they were excited about my progress. I appreciated my friends encouragement a lot, feeling so happy to know it.

I also did serious self-critique. I played the video back a couple of time, trying to find every imperfectness where there could be improvement. First, I notice my pitch was higher than it could have been. Nice deep voice is more appreciated than high girlish voice in broadcast. Greeley told me the reason could be nervous. I agree with him although I didn’t appear to be nervous, which was good. Second, I can hear the gasping in between. I think it’s also because I was nervous and I didn’t use body breath, which means breathing deeply from belly, very well. Third, Greeley told me my smile was warm and good, but I shouldn’t have keep that smile from the beginning to the end. My expression and delivery should vary according to different stories.

Learning from each experience is always rewarding. I wouldn’t have caught those imperfectness unless I actually did it. I expect more progress during the next shift. My first two cut-ins were far from perfect, but they are like a milestone of my life.

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U.S. Soldiers Return from Afghanistan (Feb 12, 2012)

FORT LEONARD WOOD – More than 90 soldiers returned to Fort Leonard Wood this Sunday from the war in Afghanistan.
The soldiers with the 55th Mobile Augmentation Company5th Engineer Battalion, provided route clearance support for Operation Enduring Freedom during the last year. 13 soldiers were injured.
Family members and friends greeted the soldiers at the welcome home ceremony. Claps, and whistles echoed in the gymnasium. Many of them broke into tears.
Valerie Zimmerman said she has gained more than what she has given up from being an army wife.
“I love being an army wife,” said Zimmerman. “I don’t think I could do it any other way.”
Zimmerman’s son Henry was born 10 days before the husband, Sergeant Michael Zimmerman, was deployed.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris McGowan, the 5th Engineer Battalion commander, said helping the soldiers reset with their families is one of the most important things after returning. A two-week training to help them adjust family life was scheduled.
McGowan served in Iraq in 2011.
The soldiers will have a 12-month break at home before the next deployment.

Interview trip to St Louis

It took 4 hours to drive round-way to get the interview in St Louis. However, the story paid off and makes the long trip worthy.

I’m covering a story regarding the Missouri Department of Mental Health and the budget cut. To reduce the cost, the department is trying to transfer mentally challenged clients from the large state-funded facilities to smaller community providers. There are a couple of mini stories under this bigger issue, so when I first pitched this story to Phill, I didn’t realize that a lot of stories are related to each other. I started with the closing of Northwest Habitation Center in St Louis, but Phill insisted that there are something about the Bellefontaine, and the parents are very upset. I interviewed the spokesperson from the department, and he blocked my interview with the department director and the habitation centers. With limited information, I thought the story was just about Northwest until I searched Bellefontaine online.

A newsletter from a year ago about Bellefontaine caught my attention. A parent association was fighting against the cut of the department and their attempt to close Bellefontaine. I thought that was what Phill said, but I still dialed the number on the newsletter to get to know more. A parent who replied my phone really move my story a lot further. She told me the department has been refusing new patients to the center so that they could close the Northwest; while the spokesperson told me they close the center because there are not much needy patients.

I was excited to know this. What’s more important and made me proud, Phill called in the department director himself to help me get through the spokesperson. He said he’d prefer me to interview the parents in St Louis, and he was right.

Basically the story is the parents are fighting against the bill that would close state-funded facilities(northwest, bellefontaine, etc). The department is refusing new patients of the state-funded facilities, so the facilities seem to be empty and the department could consolidate them. The state is also trying to transfer more patients to community providers, which would replace those large facilities, but the parents complain that community providers lack of professional services.

Phill was right that I should do an in-person interview. I got incredible interview with 2 bellefontaine parents, 1 Northwest parents, and 1 guardian. I got the copies of the emails between the parents and the department of mental health, including Keith’s response. With their help, I will also talk to a parent who visited a community provider himself. He will give us the pictures he took, so we could compare the community one and the facilities. A parent leader will come to the Capitol on Monday afternoon for a hearing at 1 pm, regarding disabilities. With Phill’s help, Keith will have a meeting with me and other staff of the department on Monday 4-5 pm.

It’s gonna be a long-term story with tremendous human interests.

Inmate Recycling Program in Hagerstown, Maryland

On January 9, I am excited to work on the story, which I set up last week. It’s about a recycling program of the prisons. I heard about the story when I was doing the Christmas trees recycling story. The manager of the landfill mentioned it. I felt it would be a very interesting story to tell people about something they probably don’t know. I followed up, made a couple of phone calls and finally contacted the PR person with Maryland Correctional Enterprises. She told me she was a reporter before, and she helped me set up the time for doing this story.

There are 6 inmates working at the recycling plant, separating and loading plastics, card board, paper, etc. I talked to two of the inmates. I was kind of surprised to see that they really love this job. I was impressed when one guy told me he wakes up 3:30 in the morning to get prepared for his job, and he would volunteer to work even when he is not scheduled to work.

As an intern, I was so glad that I have developed my own feature story. I know it was my passion in journalism that have driving me and motivating me all the time

Garage Arson

I record a newsroom report when I did my internship at WHAG in Maryland. The newsroom live was just for my reel, but the story went on air.

Covering a tragedy

Before I started my internship at WHAG News in Maryland, I told the News Director Mark Kraham that I want to cover breaking news, such as fire. I did cover my first two fire stories during my internship, and one of them was fatal.

I remember in that morning, I was anxiously looking for a story idea because I wanted to get more good stories before I went back to school. Many ideas didn’t work until I heard at least one was killed in a mobile home fire.  I was shocked by the tragedy while my sense of news drove me to the story. I geared up with another reporter Sujata and headed to the spot immediately.

As soon as we arrived the site, we started shooting footages out of the police’s yellow tape while observing the surroundings. The police and fire marshals were still investigating inside, so we try to get more information from the neighborhood. We talked to different people and finally found a neighbor who identified himself as a close friend of the victim family. He turned to be our important source when the victim’s family members had not been there.

Fatal Fire Scene

I would say, this is my best work so far based on my ability to deal with breaking news. The investigation was still going on, so I had to wrap up a package in such a short time with whatever information I had gotten.  What’s more, I would only have had two officials if I hadn’t found the neighbor to add to human interest aspects, although we didn’t use the names of the victims provided by the neighbor since the victims hadn’t been identified. Our station even broadcast the story earlier than the local newspapers.

The most important thing to me about the story is I learned to hold back my emotion, uncomfortableness and fear toward the tragedy and death, and to report the story accurately in a decent manner. I wouldn’t deny my emotion when I watched the burned trailer, knowing that two lives were lost. It is human nature and the respect to lives. However, I told myself that I have to learn to manage it and keep calm, so that I will be able to gather as much information as I could in that situation. I saw a lot of dilemmas and challenges in covering breaking news, especially this tragic story; they made this story important to me and my growth.