Jenni Joyce was a child actor, performing on stage from a very young age. That experience set her on the path to the career she has today.
“I was always interested in journalism,” she said. “I was always asking questions.”
When she was 16, her singing teacher connected her with Carol Erickson, who was then a weather person at CBS3.
Jenni began making weekly trips from her childhood home in Cherry Hill to Old City, where CBS3 was located. She made that commute regularly for the next three years until they ultimately hired her.
“I fell in love with this career more than I could have ever imagined,” she said.
By then, she was a broadcast journalism student at Temple. She continued working at CBS3 until she graduated a semester early, in 2006.
She took her first on-air reporting job in The Bronx at News12. She was a one-man band, showing up at locations in a News 12 Prius with a bunch of equipment – camera, tripod, microphone, etc. She shot and edited video, including stand-ups.
“Every day was so exhausting,” she said, noting that one-man band reporters are becoming more and more common in broadcast journalism.
She did stints at CBS 21 in Harrisburg and at Action News here in Philly before landing at Fox 29. These days, she is a general assignment reporter, filling-in on the anchor desk when needed.
Most days begin with staff meetings, where everyone presents story ideas.
“If you’re not bringing anything to the table, it’s not good,” she said.
She reads the local newspapers and websites, follows a lot of social media, connects with various organizations and she looks for national stories that she can put a local spin on.
“Eventually people will start coming to you with story ideas,” Jenni said.
For the evening news, she’ll begin gathering interviews and b-roll around 6 pm and then write the script by 8:45. It goes to her director for approval by 8:45 and the photographer begins editing around 9:00. She usually goes live during the 10 pm newscast.
“I love what I do,” she said. “You learn so much about people. You go on adventures with them.”
Here are a few things she said that stood out to me:
• Finding a good story isn't always easy. Sometimes, you need to pull people aside. "Engage them," Jenni said. "Get to the heart of the story."
• Having good writing skills is crucial to putting a story together. "Writing is everything," she said, and then quoted a former boss, "If you're a good writer, you can go anywhere."
• When she was new to the industry, she would DVR her reports, watch them and critique herself. That's how she improved.
• In addition to her on-air reporting and anchoring, she regularly tweets and updates her Facebook page. Recently, she has been presenting live video feeds via Facebook Mentions.
• Fox 29 is a local news station and they do not have the same political agenda as the Fox Network.
• As a broadcast journalist, your appearance matters. "You have to look put together," Jenni said.
• Because she is on television, viewed by thousand of people every evening, she gets recognized, which kind of makes her a celebrity in town. "I really don't think about it," she said.
• As a journalist, she is always working. Everywhere she goes, she's looking for story ideas. But she makes sure to have a personal life. "I make sure to go to happy hour every week," she said. "I need that outlet."
What stood out for you?