Don’t take anything personally. People will always have opinions about everything. Take their praises and criticisms, but don’t attach yourself them, you’ll sleep better at night.
As a part of our series called “Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A News Anchor”, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Vera Jimenez.
Vera Jimenez is a well-known face in the Los Angeles media landscape. She started working there while in college, and never left. She’s now the prime-time meteorologist at KTLA5 News in Los Angeles where she’s worked for the past twelve years. Prior to that, she was with KCBS-TV for six years, KABC-7’s Eyewitness News for two, and at multiple radio stations while in college. Her family is a big part of her life, so she’s grateful to have never had to leave LA. Vera personally understands the importance of giving back, so she serves as a Board Member of the Boys and Girls Club of the LA Harbor, is a long-time member of Rotary Club International, Emmy Award winning Meteorologist, and volunteers at several other non-profits.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! I know that you are very busy and we appreciate your time. Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
My dad died when I was three years old, and my mom never remarried. Shortly after my dad’s passing we moved to California. Growing up in rural Mexico, meant my mom went to school until the sixth grade. What she lacked in education, she made up for in work ethic, determination, and perseverance. She believed in leading by example and taught me and my five brothers and sisters how to be strong, self-sufficient, and hard working.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I love getting to know people and sharing their stories and that’s what brought me to journalism. However, while working in my first TV reporting job, I quickly learned that I didn’t get to pick my stories and would have to cover a lot of death and destruction, neither of which I have the constitution for. So, after deciding I no longer wanted to be a news reporter. I left television for radio, working as an airborne traffic and news reporter. Eventually I ended up back on TV working as a traffic reporter, and before I knew it, I was doing traffic and filling in on the weather. That’s when I decided to go back to college to become a certified meteorologist. In weather, the news is mostly happy here in California. We love the rain because we don’t get it often, and we love the sun, which is why so many move here.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Covering wildfires is probably the most interesting, scary and sad aspect of being a meteorologist. It’s extremely challenging because people’s lives and property are at stake. It’s also difficult because there is no controlling mother nature; we are truly at her whim and in her hands. Once the wildfires end and the rains eventually come, they create mud slides and debris flows where the fires have left scorched and barren ground, again creating a dangerous combination for those living in their path.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting as a news presenter? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Before becoming a meteorologist, I used to fill in for the meteorologist when he was away. One day, I got myself so confused while on air trying to explain the forecast, that I just stopped and said, “well folks, I guess I better go back to school,” and I did. The most important lesson I learned is that viewers are pretty forgiving if you do your best and are honest with them, even if you make a mistake. Viewers will trust you and respect you more for acknowledging your mistake or mishap, rather than pretending it never happened.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Since I recently started ocean swimming, learning more about the intimate interaction between the ocean and its effect on weather patterns over land has been very fascinating and eye opening. I’m hoping to turn that into a special story segment.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Failure is a vital part of growth. It’s how you figure out what works and what doesn’t. There is a quote that says, “if you’re not failing, it’s because you’re not trying.” Don’t play it safe, take calculated and thoughtful risks, and if you fail, take the lesson and build on it. No matter what career path you choose, you will take blows along the way, so you might as well take those for something that really matters to you.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My college newspaper advisor, Charles Little, made me promise I would try my hand at television reporting. I was in college during the advent of online newspapers and magazines. In his mind, news gathering, and writing would eventually be performed mostly by computers and algorithms, which meant less jobs for journalists. It was this promise to him that pushed me to get my first TV job. I am forever grateful to him and countless others who have guided me along.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Stories, hours and days can cause burn out in any career. In our line of work, there will always be stories that stay and haunt you for days, or even months. For me, giving back and having activities that challenge me bring satisfaction and joy. These help me refresh my mental and emotional health for the next day’s work.
Thank you so much for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A News Anchor”. If you can, please share a story or example for each.
1. Always do your best.
2. Being a Television Anchor isn’t about us, how we look, our opinions, or what we think. It’s about being in the service of others and giving them all the information so they can think for themselves and make the best choices for them and their families.
3. Remember that no matter how many awards you’ve won, you are only as good as your last broadcast, so don’t rest on your laurels and stay humble.
4. Viewers are smart enough to know that what we look like on television isn’t always what we look like off camera. Use your social media platforms to relieve some of those real moments that connect you and make you more relatable. This also builds trust.
5. Don’t take anything personally. People will always have opinions about everything. Take their praises and criticisms, but don’t attach yourself them, you’ll sleep better at night.
According to this Gallup poll, only 36% of Americans trust the mass media. This is disheartening. As an insider, are there a few things that news anchors can do to increase the levels of trust? Can you give some examples?
Like each of us, news directors, editors, writers, and reporters come with their own opinions and biases based on their life’s experience. This influences how they filter and interpret the information they get and how they translate it into the story. Their job is not easy. They also have to battle space and time issues, along with people’s short attention span, and all this impacts the information included or excluded from a story. What can be done about this? That’s a difficult question. Perhaps looking at the story with a different perspective and asking themselves how someone else might see and tell the story. And most importantly, not being afraid of revisiting stories to add additional information that may add light, clarity and a new point of view.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My go is quote, is the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:
“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.”
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
When I was in fifth grade, at recess, our teacher would have each student pick up 5 pieces of trash before going out to play. It was a simple task that taught us how to take pride, ownership and how to care for our environment. It also taught us that our playground and streets are not a giant trash can.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I’ve always been a fan of Robin Roberts, even before I worked in television. I follow her on Instagram. I love listening to her morning prayer with her Glam Fam. There are so many reasons to admire her that are far beyond what she’s accomplished as news anchor on Good Morning America. Not only is she a multiple award-winning journalist, she’s a Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee, hosted Jeopardy, is openly LGBTQ+, battled a couple of life threatening diseases and come out on the other side stronger, but is also open about her strong belief in her faith. As a woman of faith, myself, I’d like to thank her for demonstrating that working in the media and holding strong to your faith is okay. There is so much to ask her, but I think the number one question I have is how she found the courage to be fearless about the judgment on such an enormous stage.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
READERS CAN CONNECT WITH ME ON
FB: VERA JIMENEZ
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Vera Jimenez Of KTLA5 On The Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A News Anchor was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.