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Interview with a New, Young and Up-and-Coming TV News Reporter

April 17, 2010  
Filed under Profiles / Interviews

From the moment you meet Jessica Oh, you can tell she’s got mojo—her affable spirit, sprightly character and journalistic talent say so. In her early 20s, she’s already landed a job as a news reporter for News Channel 9 in Tennessee, where she recently moved to pursue her dream of becoming a news director one day.

As a Korean American, Oh is breaking the mold and taking a bold step in an industry and city (Chattanooga) that still lacks cultural diversity. Ordinary woman, she is not. Crowned Miss Fullerton in 2009, Jessica Oh had the opportunity to present her platform on child sex trafficking in America (“A Voice for the Voiceless”)—an issue that she deeply cares about.

Despite a busy work life, Oh takes time out to answer a few questions for Collaj and tells us what it’s like on her side of the world.

CM: Did you always want to be a broadcast journalist? What inspired you and how did it lead to this?

JO: In college, I got into TV journalism because I thought it would be fun. Little did I know what a career in this industry would mean! Most people realize what they have a passion for and pursue it. I started to pursue this profession before I realized why I loved it—the creativity in visual storytelling and the responsibility to inform and inspire others is such a rush.

CM: Can you give me a snippet of what your day looks like?

JO: I am a nightside reporter. At 2:30pm, I go into a news meeting with the news director and producers. That’s where they tell me what story I’m assigned to that day. The beauty of this profession is that every day looks different. Some days I’m out working on my story right away and other days, I don’t get out the door until 5pm. After shooting interviews and footage of my story, I get back in time to edit and present my story for our 10pm and 11pm show.

CM: What are the challenges and joys of reporting and being on TV? Do you get nervous?

JO: I get extremely nervous. There’s something about knowing that thousands of people are watching you and that you have one shot to get it right still blows my mind away. But once the nerves settle, it’s a pretty fun rush. The joy of reporting is that most people will watch the clock all day waiting for the time to fly by. As a TV journalist, you cherish each and every second—because you need it. So my days fly by before my eyes and because everyday is different, I’m never bored.

CM: Are you passionate about a certain topic? Or does one topic interest you more than others?

JO: Good question! I become passionate about the stories that I become emotionally connected to. These stories happen in all kinds of ways and under all topics, so I can’t say one topic interests me more than another.

CM: You’re just starting out, but were there any unexpected surprises about the TV industry that you didn’t know before?

JO: It is truly, harder than I thought it would be. But I can use the challenge.

CM: It’s difficult to be a public persona. Do local people recognize you when you go places? If so, how do you feel and react?

JO: Because the Asian community is very small here, I think people recognize me a lot faster. I thought I’d love the attention but I’ve realized I don’t really care for it. I neither like it nor dislike it. But it is nice because people will talk to me more. I always appreciate that!

CM: How do you stay grounded?

JO: Frankly, I’m still learning how to do this, so I’m not really sure. I expect to stay grounded by realizing that at the end of the day, my job is only my job and it doesn’t define my character.

CM: You moved to Tennessee from LA. How was the transition?

JO: SO TOUGH!!! And it was a major culture shock! I’ve never been to the south before and things are very different. But I found out it’s the details that really throw me off. Like the fact that Tennessee cars only need a license plate in the back. Or that there are no toilet seat covers.

CM: When you come home from work, how do you like to unwind, relax or relieve stress?

JO: I sleep! At this point, anything that reminds me of home helps me unwind and relax. So I usually read books that I’ve read back home or watch TV shows I used to watch with my friends. Also, talking with my friends and family back home really, really helps relieve the stress.

CM: What does your ideal life look like?

JO: Ideally, I would like someone that has grown spiritually and emotionally (maybe even physically- I’m only 5’2) in a stable job that keeps me engaged and involved with others. I would eventually love to be a news director or work as a reporter for a news magazine. That and I would love an amazing cat.

CM: Do you have a fetish or any kind or pet peeve?

JO: I don’t like when people blame the “media” for things—saying the media is the problem or that the media shapes society. In my opinion, the media is a reflection of society and it’s always hard to hear that your profession is a problem to others.

That and I hate squeaking doors. I cannot stand it.

To see a news clip of Jessica Oh in action, click here.


2 Responses to “Interview with a New, Young and Up-and-Coming TV News Reporter”
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