My journalism role model: Jennifer Roberts

In my relatively brief, but storied career, I have met many journalists of all stripes who have inspired me, but none so much as Jennifer Roberts.

When I was a cops reporter at the Daytona Beach News-Journal in the small news market of Central Florida, reporters from various media were always covering the same stories. That meant that when I arrived on the scene, I would often see the same few people, among them local television news personality Jennifer Roberts.

Jennifer, always in a blazer and sensible shoes, could be seen darting around the scene, shooting and interviewing newsmakers, police chiefs, crime victims, etc. One she gathered her soundbites, she would usually set up her own tripod that she had lugged to the scene and shoot her standup. Often, I would come back to the newsroom in time to catch the evening news and there Jennifer would be, on the anchor desk reading the news of the day.

 


Jennifer Roberts (c), Photo: Hank Springer

So why was this inspirational? Because it taught me that reporters can perform a variety of roles in a single newsroom and shouldn’t limit themselves to a particular area of coverage or even a particular medium.

In essence, watching Jennifer Roberts dutifully fulfill multiple roles was my first introduction to the concept of the backpack journalist, long before the term became popular. A lot of my can-do attitude and the “you can do anything you put your mind to” mantra that I share on this blog stems from seeing a journalist early in my career who exemplified that mindset.

Even though I remember her and her work ethic fondly, I never actually had a conversation with Jennifer, though I remember her whenever I’ve got a backpack full of equipment I must juggle or am traveling solo on a journalistic mission. Whether you’re a mobile journalist, jack-of-all-trades in a small newsroom, or a reporter tasked with shooting in various media, we all share the common goal of reporting news by any means necessary.