By Baylee Vrtiska
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Melissa Fry, a former graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and 32-year-old co-anchor for KETV NewsWatch 7 in Omaha looks back on her time as a reporter and how it compares to anchoring.
During Fry’s last semester of college in 2006, she was offered a job at KLKN-TV Channel 8, the ABC affiliate in Lincoln, where she was a reporter and anchor for two and a half years.
After networking for a few years, Fry wanted to go back home to Omaha and continue her career. Fry applied to KETV NewsWatch 7 seven times, before she was offered a job in 2008 as a reporter.
“I really just found a passion with telling hometown stories and really getting to know the community and how it works even deeper,” said Fry in a phone interview.
During Fry’s days as a reporter, she went to work around 9:15 a.m. or 1:15 p.m. On her way to work, she called sources and asked what was going on, trying to get story ideas.
Once Fry got to work, she prepared for her 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. meetings. During the meetings, reporters and editors discussed who was covering what story.
At the end of the day, if Fry was out in the field, she came back and put her story together.
After 10 years of being a reporter, Fry switched to the anchor side, which included what she considers “a pretty unique schedule.”
Fry works a split shift, waking up at 2:30 a.m. for the morning show that runs from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m.
After the morning show, Fry calls people to see what’s going on in the community, looks for stories on social media, updates the KETV NewsWatch 7 website and puts together videos.
At 9 a.m., she heads home, but comes back at 4 p.m. to anchor the 5 p.m. newscast.
“You kind of have a little bit more of a management role when you’re an anchor. You’ve got to make sure all the scripts are correct and make sure all the information that’s coming in is put into the newscast,” said Fry.
Fry said that after reporting for 10 years, she misses it.
"It was a great way to get to know the community,” she said.
However, the switch from reporter to anchor was the best move for her now because she’s pregnant, expanding her family of five to a family of six.
Fry was first interested in journalism as a young girl, but she fell in love with it during an internship at KETV NewsWatch 7 her junior year in college. She said internships are important.
“Get the internship," she said. "Lazy people will never make it. It’s a fun career, but it’s not a normal Monday through Friday (job). Jump in head first. Jump in the fire. Experience as much as you can because it’s really a ride."
A career as a television news anchor isn’t always easy. Fry has made some tough ethical decisions.
KETV’s reporter and photographer went to the scene where a women’s boyfriend shot and killed her daughter. The reporter caught the mother wailing on tape when she came home and realized that her daughter had been shot. The station wanted to air the wailing sound on that night’s newscast.
Fry was so upset. She felt like they might be taking it too far.
“It was very compelling and unforgettable. I thought, ‘Why do we need this?’ I took it up with the producers and we didn’t end up airing it,” said Fry.
“When you get one side of the story and can’t get ahold of the other side, ask yourself, ‘Do you absolutely have to use it? Are you going to hurt somebody’s reputation?’ You’ll make those decisions all the time as a journalist,” said Fry.
Editing is also a huge part of Fry’s job.
Fry writes and edits the ticker that runs at the bottom of the screen during newscasts; she edits her script and she also writes and edits her own stories.
When Fry is editing her script, she takes out unnecessary words and edits for what the viewer wants and needs to know.
“The hardest part of writing is knowing what to keep and what not to. Keep it short and simple,” said Fry.
Fry believes the most satisfying part of her job understanding issues that are going on in the community. Fry enjoyed writing a story several years ago about the Omaha community supporting a boy who had cancer.
“I love telling that story, whether it’s a feel-good story or a story that has changed someone’s life or is going to change someone’s life. I love really getting to know people and issues that make Omaha what it is,” said Fry.
Fry had this advice for reporters: “As hard as it is, read, watch and study the news. Let yourself be passionate about it."
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