Thursday, April 22, 2010

An Interview with a Real! Live! Celebrity!

Ever wonder what really goes on behind the scenes for those perfectly coiffed and polished people sitting at your local TV news desk? Well, my lovely, old (not age-wise, but length-of-friendship-wise) friend Caroline Cornish graciously agreed to answer a few of my burning questions for y'all's reading pleasure.
(Caroline being Glamorous Anchorwoman)

Here are a few pertinent facts I think you should know about Caroline:

1. Caroline recently became a new mom. (Congratulations, Cornish!) She's the only one of my high school friends (and I promise I had more than one) to have spawned offspring, besides yours truly.

2. Caroline is a HUGE Red Sox fan. She's married to a HUGE Yankees fan. Proof that it can happen, and somehow, mysteriously, work.

3. Caroline is afraid of dogs. Especially big ones. Also, she doesn't swear (I *think* that fact is current). Although perhaps she does in the presence of big dogs.

4. When I met Caroline, I was wearing a sweater (her memory, not mine) that had apple trees embroidered on it. Somehow, she still decided to be my friend ... for the ensuing twenty years. Yup, she's a keeper.

5. Not all of her friends are apple-tree-wearing charity cases. She's seen, in person, four sitting presidents and met Bush (41) and Clinton. (Because she's extremely down-to-earth, you have to tease this information out of her.)
(Caroline being Un-glamorous, Radiant, Maine-living Mama)

Okay, ready for my questions and her brilliant answers???

Congratulations on having become a mother recently! I know that when you got married, and for years afterward, you were pretty decided on NOT having children. I know something of the mental process you went through, but is there a public version of what changed your mind about having kids?

I guess the main thing that happened was the death of my grandfather.  I come from a very close family, but for some reason it never occurred to me in a tangible way that at some point the generations before me would be gone, and if I did not have a child, there would be no one there to take their place.
I used to be of the mindset that once you have kids your life was over, and it was all about the kids.  But now it seems to me that these are just different phases of life, none more or less important than the others.
I had accomplished many of my professional goals and was very happy in my marriage.  So it all kind of came together.  I still wasn't 100% sure that this was the right thing to do, even when I got pregnant, but at that point, I had committed, so I decided to put my fears aside and do the best I could.

What have you enjoyed the most about motherhood so far?

First thing in the morning, when I go into Ellie's room after she's woken (me) up, she's in her crib, wimpering and fussing... until she sees me.  And then she gives me the biggest smile in the world, one of unconditional love.  It's the best way to start the day. [Editor's Note: I know exactly what she's talking about, and I TOTALLY AGREE.] I also love every time she figures out a new skill.  It seems like one day, you're just waving a rattle in front of her face, and the next, she's figured out how to grab it.  Those small accomplishments are very exciting.

What has been the toughest part?

Being patient and flexible with my schedule.  I'm someone who used to make a list of 10 things to do in the day, and get at least 8 of them done.  Now I'm lucky if I accomplish two, and it seems like I have zero down time.  I miss just being able to sit back and read a book for a couple hours.  My schedule seems very tight now.

What's been the biggest surprise?

There have been two big surprises:  One, I'm actually able to get a decent amount of sleep.  I have an amazing baby that started sleeping 11 hours a night at 3 months.  I thought the sleepless night period was going to last much longer.
However, on the flip side of that, I thought I'd be able to have more down time in the day when she's napping.  But she's a terrible napper.  She does not stay down in the crib during the day, and that means that in order for her to get a decent nap you have to either hold her, or take her for a ride/walk.  I didn't expect my indoor chores to be such a challenge!

How is the juggling of parenthood and career going? I remember that was something you anticipated being a challenge.

It's definitely a challenge, but I think it's going OK.  I didn't really think about how much "homework" I did for my job until it was suddenly much more difficult to get it done.  It's a lot harder to read the papers because Ellie demands constant attention.  A couple times, I've felt a little unprepared, and it really bothers me.  I'm getting better at time management, though, and it's not as bad as it was when I first got back to work!
And on the flip side, when I work late, I feel like I'm missing valuable time with her.  It's every working parent's dilemma, I think.
What makes it easier, though, is that my husband and I have organized our schedules so that we only need child care 10 hours a week.  When I'm working late, I know she's with Dad.

So speaking of career, what is your official title and job description?

My official title is anchor/reporter.  On Saturdays and Sundays, I anchor the 6 & 11 p.m. news for two stations (the broadcast is simulcast), WCSH in Portland, ME and WLBZ in Bangor, ME.  The stations are the NBC affiliates in Maine and between the two of them, we reach almost the entire state.  Wednesday-Friday, I'm out in the field, doing interviews and writing.

Can you describe [in brief] a typical day on the job?

I have two different kinds of "typical" days.  During the week, I'll come in first thing in the morning (usually at 9 a.m., but earlier if the story demands it), make any phone calls I need to either do research or set up interviews that our assignment desk hasn't already thought of, and then get out the door to do those interviews.  I'm teamed up with a videographer, who makes sure we have enough video to cover the words I write.  When we return from our shoots, I will go through the video, writing down sound bites.  Then I write the story, and hand it off to the videographer to edit.  After that, I write a version of my story to post on our website.

On weekends, I come in mid-afternoon, and write up some stories that videographers have shot on their own.  I also read through scripts that other people wrote to make sure I know what they say and that I don't pull a Ron Burgundy (if you've seen the movie "Anchorman," you know what I mean).  Then at 6, I read the show on TV.  After that, I post some more stories on the website, and get ready for the 11.
Sorry, that wasn't particularly brief. :)

What do you think would surprise most people about your job, if anything?

Oh, there's so much!  A lot of people don't realize that we shoot most of our stories the day they air, that a lot of news anchors wear blue jeans on the set because you can't see their legs, and that we're not on the road 24 hours a day chasing "breaking news" -- at least not in Maine!
TV news isn't nearly as glamorous as people think it is either.  We don't have hair and makeup people or wardrobe people.  We do everything ourselves.  At the network level, it's a different story, but most local news people have to be self-sufficient in that respect!

How often do you get recognized around town?

A lot of people I work with get recognized all the time.  But I've been told I look completely different when I'm not on camera.  I think it's because I don't really wear makeup, and I dress very casually when I'm off the clock!  For some reason, I've been getting recognized a lot more when I'm out with my daughter, and it seems like every time my mom comes to visit, I get recognized, too!  Right now, I'd say I'm averaging once every 2 weeks or so when I'm not working.  Other people I work with get it every day.

I know that your husband is a producer for a rival station. Do you guys talk shop at home or do you have to keep the secrets of the trade? ;-)

We definitely talk shop at home all the time, but it's in a "how was your day" way.  We don't talk about special reports that our stations are doing, or anything that would be considered a station "secret," i.e. if one of our stations is about to launch a new show.
Also, I can get called out on breaking news from home, and when that happens, we have a "don't ask; don't tell" policy.  All he knows is that I have to go to work.  Because he has more of a desk job, he never gets called in spur of the moment.

There you go, reader friends. Isn't she great?

Your Totally Unbiased News Source


Stephanie said...

Very cool. Love the sweater memory! I myself remember a favorite sweater of mine from 4th grade, green (and not the pretty kind) with some sort of abstract reindeer thingy on it. I'm sure there's a picture of it around here somewhere....

Naomi said...

Thanks for sharing! What a treat!! I don't know any anchor/reporters!! Very interesting - especially to see it from a new mom's perspective. :-D