S4E7: Alicia Smith, News Anchor @WXYZAlicia (#50)

Storytelling with News Anchor and Social Media Proponent Alicia Smith

Get ready to hear from a major metropolitan news desk. Alicia Smith is the weekday co-anchor of “7 Action News This Morning” on Detroit’s ABC affiliate WXYZ from 4:30 until 7:00 every morning. She joined WXYZ in January 2007 as an anchor/reporter/multi-media journalist and is a cheerleader of Channel 7's #earlyrisers on Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve admired Alicia’s social media usage over the years. Her authenticity and willingness to share the behind the scenes stories helps make news real. She’s also an award-winning storyteller. Alicia is a three-time Emmy winner who has been recognized for both her anchoring and her reporting. Today, you get to hear Alicia’s story, and her passion for a free (and local) press.

“When people look at us like we are the enemy, it breaks my heart. We are one of you. We live in your community. There’s this vitriol in our country where everything becomes politicized. I would just like to remind people that the [local] media - not the national media who’s paid to have an opinion - you need those people on the front lines fighting for you, holding people accountable.” Alicia Smith on the idea of a free press

Being a Storyteller Takes Work and Drive (and a supportive tribe)

When Alicia began her journey to become a TV News Anchor, her parents supported her decision. She attended college and worked on her skills, knowledge and her presence. She also had to take out a loan, like nearly every college student.

Unfortunately, not everyone could see the path Alicia could. The loan executives told Alicia that journalism wouldn’t pay off (and wouldn’t pay well) so she needed to change her major.

“I was devastated. I called my parents and I was in tears. They said ‘No. Don’t change your major if that’s what you want to do. You do it.’ - Alicia Smith on going after your dreams

In short, the loan guy was right. Alicia’s first journalism job paid just $12,500 per year (mid 1990s) and she had to live with her parents for a few years early on in her career. But now she’s a morning anchor in the #13 TV market in the country. She stuck with it and gets to tell the stories of her community.

Technology Changes Storytelling

Professionally, Alicia has seen storytelling change because of technology over the years. From live trucks and microwave signals to Facebook live, bringing the day’s news to viewers looks different today than it did 20 years ago.

When you consume stories from your local news station, do you expect them to use social media? Do you sit down and watch the news like we used to do in the 1980s? With the technology evolution and the 24-hours news cycle, it can be a challenge for stations and their storytellers - reporters, photojournalists and anchors - to keep up.

“You’re literally watching reporters gather the news. Which is exciting, but also it changes the way a story is told. It’s a little messier, but [seems] okay because people know what they’re getting [with Facebook live].” - Alicia Smith on live reporting during breaking news

Connect with Alicia:

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