I always loved the news. I loved reading the news, watching the news, and as I grew older, talking (and even arguing about) the news. For a short time I worked on the news-making side of business, serving as an intern for Michigan Representative Robert Traxler’s office on Capitol Hill and helped his staff to research legislation.
In Washington, the global media was everywhere and I watched how reporters covered political stories. I was hooked. I went for a job in television new, got it, went for another one, got is and this went on until one day I worked my way into Deutsche Welle International in Berlin. For three years, I reported on the new world order in Europe and a wide array of post-Iron Curtain stories. Most of these stories appeared in the award-winning PBS program, “European Journal”
My broadcasting career began with a TV news producing job for a CBS affiliate in Santa Maria, California. While producing full-time, I offered to work after hours without pay to hone my on-air reporting skills. A few months later, I was producing three weekdays and reporting on the weekends. A weekend anchor didn’t show up for work one day so I filled in. A few months after that, I was a weekend anchor and weekday general assignment reporter with live shots nightly. Three years later, a new upstart CBS affiliate in New Hampshire called and I began my trek cross-country to be a noon anchor. Seven months later, that station went dark. I packed up, again, and headed back to California. This time my destination was Sacramento. This move afforded me the opportunity to not only cover news in the capital of one of the biggest cities in California, but I was able to leerage that status to earn grants to see the world. I went to Australia to do a series on the Pacific Rim economy and tourism, and then I received an international fellowship through the German Consulate that provided me a golden opportunity—to observe and report on the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism in Eastern Europe. During this fellowship, I met with Managing Editors and Executive producers at Deutsche Welle who later offered me a phenomenal career move.
It took a few years but I got my “dream job,” working for Deutsche Welle TV, Germany’s answer to the BBC. They were starting an English Division and asked if I wanted to be part of its first international anchor and reporting team. This was an incredible opportunity. I worked as an anchor in their studios in Berlin and traveled throughout Europe interviewing heads of state; various social and political issues as well as feature stories found in Europe’s diversity of culture.
There was once-in-a-reporter-lifetime type of stories, like covering the 50th anniversaries of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp and the liberation of the only part of the United Kingdom to be occupied by the Nazis- the Isle of Jersey. I traveled to the Arctic Circle in Norway to interview fishermen about their defiance of the worldwide moratorium on whaling; talked to Scotland Yard about gun control; rode through the streets of Nice with French S.W.A.T. teams in pursuit of drug lords; Belfast peace talks, and reported on many stories involving the newly-formed European Union and its currency.
It was a wonderful ride, but it’s true what they say about “ all good things.” As the reality of what re-unification was going to cost the German government became clearer, the budgets at DW-TV started to tighten. At the same time, I was reaching a point of “no return” that I had heard about from other ex-patriots in Germany-stay too long, they warned, and you really can’t go home again.
So I went home. Well, not really home, but to Phoenix, to begin a new phase in my career. It was there that I started to produce documentaries, in both short and long from, for the PBS station, KAET. I also was a member of the adjunct faculty at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. I completed my Masters Degree in Broadcast Journalism with an emphasis in Political Sociology. My interest in politics that really took off years earlier as an intern on Capitol Hill clearly remained a focus on my professional life.
While I enjoyed the atmosphere in the Cronkite School, it was the atmosphere outside that caused me to leave Phoenix after five years. It was way too hot for this gal from the Great Lakes! I had some freelance opportunities in San Francisco, which also happened to be my husband’s hometown, so we moved to the Bay Area.
It was on one of those freelance assignments that I want to San Jose State University to obtain a couple of sound bites from SJSU professors. A few months later, I received an invitation to apply for a position as the faculty advisor for the weekly student newscast. It was a perfect entry into full-time teaching, because I was so familiar with the material I was teaching that I really could focus on learning how to teach.
I “transferred” to San Francisco State in time for the fall semester of 2006, taking over news reporting and television documentary production classes. In 2015, I accepted a job to teach in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Drake University in Des Moines.
Producing and directing news documentaries is a passion of mine with roots in my years as a TV news journalist. Documentary production is an extension of my investigative reporting that began with my work as an international journalist for PBS in Berlin. Documentaries allow me to explore, in an in-depth fashion, the many facets of life. It is extremely gratifying for me to find the story that is yet to be told. The challenge ensues as I morph that story into shape with visuals and an interesting script for a general audience. It is my aim to humanize a story; bring issues to light and explain controversies. These objectives can help viewers appreciate a foreign culture, understand different lifestyles and exercise critical thinking about the human condition. I find these skills are also essential when teaching in the classroom.