Ohio news anchor discusses career path


Callie Burgan, News Editor

Lily Bradley is accustomed to conducting her own interviews and asking questions for a living, but she swapped roles when she sat down to offer a behind-the-scenes look at her journalism career.

For Bradley, news anchoring was a career choice that hit close to home.

“My mom, Amy, was a TV anchor for about fifteen years, and I kind of grew up with it. When I was starting to apply to schools, I originally put down journalism as my major thinking that I would change it later. I love my mom and wanted to be just like her, which is the main reason why I put that down journalism,” Bradley said.

“I ended up never changing it because I liked it so much. It all was kind of an accident because I had even ended up at Ohio University, which is known for their great journalism program.

“I can remember being little, and while some people would play dolls or house or something like that, I would read my mom’s old scripts. Before leaving for Ohio, I interned at WJAC, which is where my mom had anchored, for two summers. It began as an internship that eventually turned into a part-time job.

Although a journalism career might be seen as glamorous, Bradley said that the majority of the hard work happens off camera.

“From an outsider perspective, it looks like I throw on my makeup and do my hair and start talking in front of the camera and that’s it. The truth is, though, there is a lot more to it than that. It isn’t glamorous and fun 24/7.”

“No day is typical as a journalist. Things change very quickly, and every day is different. People might say that every day is different in any career field, but in my job, I have had no two days that were similar. All in the span of one day, I could cover breaking news like a house fire or something else that is sad, like an accident. Twenty-five minutes later, I could be covering a story about puppies. There is no in-between here.

Bradley said as a journalist, she is constantly tasked with coming up with story ideas and pitching them to her station.

“Your ideas have to be something feasible that you know you can accomplish that day because consistency is key. I always come with a story set up, but on special occasions, they could tell me to cover a certain story to cover.

“However, you should always come equipped with your own ideas, and those can be hard to find. That is where being involved in the community and having good friends and good sources helps.

“Honestly, social media makes it a lot easier. If you think about it, any time that something big is happening, people are posting about it on social media. I find the majority of my stories online. Facebook events and community groups are a great place to find story ideas.

Bradley says that at her news station, a majority of the anchors are multimedia journalists, or MMJs for short. An MMJ is an anchor who is able to film their own stories without a camera crew.

“It can be tough, especially when it’s hot out, because you are lugging your gear with you.

“Because I anchor on the weekends, I also get a photographer during the week. Before that, I had MMJed by myself plenty of times. I have done both, but lately I have been with a photographer most of the time. I am lucky to have the help.

“A lot of newsrooms have made the switch to MMJs instead of a full-on camera crew. It depends on the newsroom. However, if you can do it all, it makes you much more marketable.

Bradley said she learned how to MMJ during college.

“I had a lot of hands-on classes in college as well as a student-run TV station that actually served as the local news provider for Athens County, Ohio because of how small and economically deprived it was. Every day after my classes, I would go to the newsroom there and help out, which taught me a lot.

“You learn on the job and learn something new every day. The more you get involved, the more knowledge you pick up. Internships are another great way to learn.

“I did a story about a little girl named Ivy who had severe down syndrome. She was nonverbal, so she could not really speak. But any time the country singer Chris Stapleton’s music would come on, Ivy could sing his songs. She could not really communicate otherwise. We did a story about her and how the music helped her. His people ended up seeing it, and Ivy got to meet Chris Stapleton at his concert in Charleston. She even got VIP passes and the opportunity to take pictures with him and a signed guitar.

“You never really know who is watching your stuff or where it goes. That was probably the most exciting story that I have done.

“Facts are the basis of everything we do as journalists. You should be consistently checking to make sure that the numbers you are using are right. In addition, someone can say something, but that does not necessarily mean that it is accurate.

“For example, if someone says that the department of highways has not fixed a bridge, they can say that, but it does not mean that it’s a fact. As a journalist, you need to back track and fact check and reach out to the department of highways.

“Everything needs to be double and even triple checked before you can say it is a fact. That idea of research and confirming numbers and statements and actions actually happened is crucial.

“Writing is so important in my field. If you are a good writer, your job is ten times easier. You only have a minute and fifteen seconds to tell a story from start to finish. If you can write in a way that is succinct, clear, and conversational, that is crucial because it makes it easier to fit more details in and tell a cohesive story in a small amount of time.

Bradley says that she is extroverted, and her favorite part of journalism is being out and talking to people.

“I like to interact with people. The writing side of it is nice too. To be quite honest, at the end of the day, the TV part is the worst. You have to be camera ready all the time.

“I like editing too, which is taking video and matching it the words I am saying.

“With writing, you have good days and you have bad days. On a good day, it takes me about twenty minutes to write something. On a bad day, it could take a while. On those days, I like to walk around, go to Chick-Fil-A and get a soda and clear my brain for a second. Writer’s block is real, and it happens a lot, even to professionals.

Bradley said the best advice she could give to someone who is pursuing journalism is to try your hand at everything.

“There are many avenues in journalism, and it does not have to be TV, or even in front of the camera.

“In my job, I have so many coworkers that people do not actually see on television. My producers are writing and stacking the show. There are directors taking automated camera shots. There are editors, master control people and all sorts of people. Journalism is not just being on TV.

“Of course, there is paper journalism. You can write for the newspaper or magazines. The beauty of a journalism degree is that there are so many different avenues you can take. For someone who wants to be on TV, I would say go for it. I would give a little warning that it is not as glamorous as people think.

“It is not just putting on my makeup and my eyelashes and being in front of the camera. There is a lot of dirty work behind the scenes. It is worth it though. It is fun and you get to tell stories and meet really interesting people that you would not have gotten to meet otherwise. It is a competitive field, and it is not always sunny. I think it is worth it if it is something you are really passionate about.

Bradley said that passion is important because being a journalist can be a thankless job.

“There’s a lot of unrest right now in general. With everything going on in the world, people are stressed, and understandably so. There is so much going on. This job is not always sunshine, and people aren’t always happy to see you, but if you are passionate about it, you can to bed at night knowing that you are doing something that you enjoy.”