Former news anchor for Fox’s Fox & Friends and CNN’s American Morning
I’ll never forget my first time putting together a news story…
I was still getting my degree at the University of Maryland when I began an internship at our local cable news channel “News 21″ in Rockville, Maryland. I used to shadow around the reporters and photographers, watching in awe as they went from the pitch meeting, to story approval, to working the phones, to driving to the story, to setting up the cameras, lights and mics and finally producing a neat package that aired on our daily newscast. Remember, these were the days before the Internet, BBS, iPhone, GPS…Think police scanners, two way radio, and a huge “emergency-only” cellphone that came in a leather bag the size of a briefcase stashed under your car seat.
So I got my first assignment: a local school board budget fight. “YES!!” I thought. I could do this! I got my interviews taped, and after 15 takes I finally had a usable “stand-up” (when the reporter talks on camera, bridging or explaining an element of the story). Now it was time to race back to the station and start logging the tape.
As I sat in front of the computer trying to piece the story together, I remember a prickly panic creeping up my scalp as the thought, “How the hell am I going to write this?” began to take hold.
The news director popped his head out of his office: “Kiran, you probably need to get into an edit bay in the next 20 minutes and start laying down your track or this might not make air.”
Do or die time Chetry! I didn’t die. I banged it out. Here was my masterpiece. Local news cliches? “But whether they work this out in the end, only time will tell…” CHECK. Generic introduction to a soundbite? “Some say it’s good, others say it’s not...” CHECK. Nervous standup with awkward gesturing and holding the mic like an ice cream cone? CHECK. It was all there! Success!
I tracked (why did I sound like Minnie Mouse back then?) and then started trying to edit. How could this be so hard? The sports guy, Brian, my dear friend to this day, came in to save the day, ensuring my piece didn’t contain long periods of audio with a blank screen. I handed it to the video operator. He popped it in a machine. I held my breath for what seemed like the entire two minute story and when I heard my tagout — “Kiran Chetry, News 21 Rockville” — I could have cried with relief. No one smelled an Emmy that day. But I did it! I put together a story. And it ran on the news.
And I was allowed to come back the next day…and do it all again. Best feeling ever.