Fox News Channel’s Jenna Leecurrently serves as a co-anchor of “Happening Now,” FNC’s 2-hour midday program, alongside Jon Scott.
Lee, along with Nicole Petallides, was the first anchor to appear on Fox Business Network when it went on the air Oct. 15, 2007. She co-hosted “Fox Business Morning” and was also a part of the show “Money for Breakfast.”
The football fan’s father is former NFL quarterback Bob Lee. TVNewser talked with Lee about her transition from FNC to FBN, how she got on air, and of course, football.
TVNewser: You moved from FBN to FNC in July. What has been the biggest challenge in the transition?
Jenna Lee: The biggest challenge in the transition is just being able to work different journalistic muscles. When I was on Fox Business, everything was toned to what was happening in the business world, which is really great, because obviously business and the economy remains one of the biggest stories out there. But then when I moved over to Fox News, suddenly I’m dealing with a whole bunch of different news all at one time, which includes politics obviously and also breaking news as well. And it was a challenging part of the job, because at the end of the day, I could just feel it: You feel the fact that you’re moving all these muscles to try to cover all of these different stories. But it’s also been one of the most rewarding parts of the job, because it’s truly what I love to do, which is follow the breaking news and be able to talk about other topics beyond business like health and politics. It’s a double-edged sword: it’s been challenging, but it’s also been one of the greatest parts of the transition.
TVNewser: You began your TV career in financial journalism, working as a writer and segment producer at NY1, how did you make the move on air?
Jenna Lee: I actually began as a writer in just general news at NY1. That’s kind of where I got my start. Because I had done some other freelance work for Forbes, I was able to use that experience and start producing the business segments at NY1. But the way that I made the transition to on-air, I had a good background from Columbia’s school of journalism where I learned how to do every part of a broadcast story, because it was the thinking that we’re all going to be backpack journalists. And we’re going to have to know how to edit and shoot and write and do everything by ourselves. So as I was in the position in segment producing, I would take nights, weekends. Sometimes I would be writing at 2am, get on a shift at 11am, and go out and shoot and edit a story until 6. Because I just love going out and putting the whole thing together. And that’s how I really was able to develop a body of work to move myself in the right direction. It definitely was difficult to do all of that by yourself, but it was some of the most fun times just to be out in the field and doing my own interviews. This was stuff that I pitched that I would include in some of the business segments. At NY1, I was never able to be on camera or put my voice to the story. I was very much in the background, but that was how I got all the practice I needed to eventually be on air.
TVNewser: You were one of the FBN originals, what are your thoughts about the progress that network is making?
Jenna Lee: I think Fox Business has done an incredible job. It’s amazing to see where the network was on the very first day. We rehearsed for weeks before the first day, when the lights came up and we went on air at 5am for the very first time. And to see it at that point, to seeing the studios being under construction to seeing the beautiful studios that we have and all this great talent. We were a small group before, and now we have all these great people with a ton of experience like Liz Claman and Charlie Gasparino. To see that group grow and to see what a great bunch of people they are, not only the talent on camera, but what an amazing team they have behind them. I can only say wonderful things about the group, because it’s just been an evolution that we probably won’t see often, in this day and age, where networks are being built. Being a part of that was a privilege, but what I’ve seen is this morphing into a great network that I think just serves a need in the media realm right now.
TVNewser: What’s the biggest news story of 2010 in your opinion?
Jenna Lee: The economy. That’s so all-encompassing, but at the end of the day, that’s what it’s really about. It really effects so many parts of our lives: your job, what you’re doing, whether or not you have a job or not. And I think it’s really effected the way not only how our stories are driven in the press, but in a bigger sense, I think what’s happening in the economy is really effecting politics and I think it’s effecting our national identity too. So I think there’s a lot of big story lines that are coming from it. I think it’s one of the biggest stories this year and I think it’s going to be one of the biggest stories next year for sure.
TVNewser: Your father Bob Lee played in the NFL, he was the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. You’ve had him on your show when you were at FBN. What do you think of the controversy over the current QB Brett Favre?
Jenna Lee: As far as the controversy, I don’t really have any thoughts on it at all. What I think that shows is that there’s always a story that’s beyond the surface level. Whether or not this story is true, whatever it is, because there’s so much up in the air about that story still, and obviously with the leaks involved as well, I’d have to know really what the facts are. But I thinks what it tells us: You can look at something and think it’s just a sports story, but there’s always more than just the surface, and it’s always good to ask more questions.
TVNewser: Who are you rooting for this season?
Jenna Lee: A couple teams. I like the Falcons, my dad’s alma mater. I think that they’re playing really good. And I do like the New England Patriots. That’s a shout out to my producers now, a big fan of the Patriots. And of course the Saints. How can you not like Drew Brees? Obviously I like the sport, but it’s the people behind it that really make it.