Q&A with Lauren Lee from KVAL

I had the chance to sit down with KVAL news reporter Lauren Lee and talk about how she got started in journalism and what a day working for KVAL is like for a reporter. 

Why did you decide to go into broadcast journalism?

Lauren Lee

Lauren Lee

Ever since I was young, I loved telling stories. I think I got it from my grandfather because my grandfather would always tell stories. Ever since [my relatives and I] were young, we would gather in the living room whenever he was at our house or we were at his house [and] he would just tell us stories about when he was younger…growing up…just stories in general. Naturally, I became a curious person and I started telling stories too. I would be the one telling and retelling stories. I was known for that. My family would be like “you would always tell stories since you were young.” But it wasn’t until high school where I realized it could be a career.

What did you do outside of class in college to prepare yourself?

I used to act when I was younger. Even in college I took acting classes because I felt it helped with my reporting a lot because I was able to totally go out of my comfort zone…and not be afraid of the spotlight. And it’s live. Once the director says action, you’re on. It’s really random but I played basketball growing up. That kind of taught me more about working in a group. For me, basketball taught me a lot about life in general. It’s not even about the sport. It’s about learning about commitment and following through and being there for others. Especially in journalism, it’s not just you; it’s a team effort. You have to be responsible for everything.

Where was your first job as a reporter?

It was actually here. So after journalism school, I applied all over. I knew I wanted to stay the west coast. But at the same time, in journalism, you can’t really be picky. Anywhere that will give you a foot in the door sometimes is the best opportunity. So I knew I wanted to stay in the west coast so I just applied to west coast areas. But then after a while, I started expanding. I applied to some [stations] in Texas and random places like Oklahoma. But then I got the job here. But it’s actually really interesting. It’s really hard to get a job in TV news but once you get your first foot in the door, I think after that it’s easy. Your first job is always the hardest, but after that, I think there are a lot of jobs out there for people if you’re willing to stay in it because…it’s a lot of hard work. It’s demanding but if you love it…its not even work. It’s fun and every day is challenging.

How does a story go from being an idea to a broadcast package?

All the reporters, the producers…our news director, our executive producer…all get into a room and talk about the different stories of the day. There are some you have to cover like say there was a fire the night before or a hit and run the day before and you want to follow up on it. But also, you have to pitch your own stories. And I get [stories] through sources and talking to people in the community. The news director and producer…decide what you should work on for the day. If you have a really good idea and you’re passionate about it, you have to pitch it really well. After that, you go out either with a photographer or cameraman, or you go out by yourself. Nowadays…everyone has to know how to do everything. You can’t just be a reporter anymore. Before I go out ill make some phone calls and set up interviews. You’d be surprised how willing people are to make themselves available to talk about things. So you go out with your camera or photographer and you film the story and then we come back to the newsroom. Once we’re back in, we look at the video that we got and we log the video. You pick the sound bites that you want and then you start crafting your package. We write the story and then we send it over to our producer to look over. She looks it over and she proofs it and then you take your script and then your script and you voice the story.

How many packages do you do per day?

Sometimes we do 2. It just depends on the story. Most days we do one package and then one VO-SOT. So say the package is in the 5 o’clock [newscast] then you do a VO-SOT in the 6 [p.m. newscast]. Sometimes we have 2 packages, which can be really challenging but sometimes but sometimes [viewers] need it. Sometimes it’s a different angle to the same story.

Do you think KVAL is your final destination with your career?

I don’t think so. I really like it right now. But I think especially in TV news, a lot of people eventually want to go home. Eventually, I’d like to go back to southern California. But I think in news, you have to be flexible.

Do you have any recommendations for students?

My first piece of advice is if you love it, go for it. Don’t have any regrets. When you’re an undergrad, do internships. Always work on your craft. Even if you’re a freshman, always work on your craft.

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