December 18, 2015
Last spring, WCU senior Amber Key was just in her second year covering sports for “WCU Weekly," the on-campus student-produced TV news program, when a chance encounter led her to a role reporting in what is the fourth largest media market in the country. Today, as a member of FOX TV's college student team, Key is researcher, cameraman, editor and an on-air junior reporter for FOX 29's “Good Day Philadelphia Weekend."
It all started with her successful pitch to FOX 29's "Good Day" producer. Key and students from other Philadelphia-area universities arrived at the 4th and Arch studios anxiously expecting to do on-camera auditions for the station's junior reporter program. "Instead, we were given just two weeks to come up with segment ideas – not just story ideas, but actual finished products," says Key, who chose to produce a story on Camp Dreamcatcher.
A month after submitting her work, Key received word that she was one of the eight students (out of 35 applicants) FOX decided to hire. While the junior reporters are considered interns, in fact, they are paid for the stories they produce. "However," explains Key, "there are no guarantees pitches we submit will be aired. Even if the producer likes a story idea, she can still reject the final product."
Given that the junior reporters must work on their own, producing even one segment represents a good deal of work. "Still, I really love the experience," she says," and it's a great opportunity to build my resume."
Her most recent pitch to air on "Good Day Philadelphia Weekend" was about the Lehigh Valley Baby Sign Language program. Key first learned about sign language instruction for very young children at the West Chester Area Daycare center where she observed a teacher performing sign language with babies. "It apparently reduces the youngsters' frustration and actually boosts their IQ and test scores," says Key. "It was fascinating to watch."
Another of her segments that aired recently involved a 17-year-old swimmer from Potts Gove High School, who, according to Key, is three seconds away from qualifying for Olympic trials. She is now working on a third story about a female basketball player from Abington High School; that segment will air on Jan. 9.
In an era of YouTube videos, Key sees herself as "an old soul" when it comes to watching television news. "People today, especially those my age, aren't watching the news on TV," she notes. "They are getting their news from other media platforms like twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
"I think it's cool to be able to go online and see a reporter doing their newscast on a computer or phone," she admits. "I think it's important to be a part of that, but since I was very young, I've been intrigued by TV news."
And, it may be telling the story that attracts her more than what platform is used. "I love telling stories," she says. "I love telling other people's stories. I'm very passionate about education and social justice issues, and I love helping people."