I am writing a series called The Best Jobs in the World. This series is dedicated to people who have rare or interesting jobs. My aim is to give options, hope, or motivation for people who do not feel the need to get a nine-to-five.
I had the wonderful chance to speak with an old friend of mine, Caity Jackson. Caity is now a reporter for WLIO-TV in Lima, Ohio. She is a former beauty pageant queen in the Miss USA circuit and graduate of Eastern Kentucky University. (This interview has been edited)
EC: Caity, thank you for taking time to speak with me!
Caity Jackson: Of course!
EC: You are a news reporter! Is it different than you imagined?
Caity Jackson: It is very different. When you are a young kid, you think of it as glamorous and easy when really it’s mentally and physically grueling. Carrying tons of equipment from place to place in heels in the snow is challenging.
Sometimes I have to put together three stories that are two hours away and require interviews and research before the six o’clock news… and you come in at 10:00AM – your makeup is smeared, your hands are cracking from the cold, and you have ketchup on your shirt trying to munch on McDonald’s in the news car.
EC: That sounds like a lot of running around. Not to mention, I could never be in front of the camera every night for everyone to see. What excites you the most about the job?
Caity Jackson: I love meeting new people. Being out in the field, you never know what your assignment editor is going to give you. One day I am in a manufacturing plant – the next walking through a cemetery. Every person I meet at each story cultures me just a little bit more. I love people and I love to hear their stories.
EC: Have you thought of any cool sign-offs yet?
Caity Jackson: Unfortunately, every news station has a mandated sign off… but if I could, it would be in song.
EC: You’re extensively known as a pageant queen. In what pageants did you compete?
Caity Jackson: You name it, I have done it. I don’t like to pick one thing and stick to it because I don’t know what I am missing. Just like in grade school, I played many different sports and many different instruments until I found my niche. I found golf, and my pageant niche was Miss USA. The Miss USA system is where I met all of my current best friends and where I have my favorite memories.
Miss USA also feels like a party on stage and the audience cheers with you.
EC: Have the pageants prepared you for this job?
Caity Jackson: I credit pageants not only for my current job but for who I am today. Pageants prepare you to be an all around better person and an overachiever. I used to be shy, and it has helped me come out of my shell. Now, I nail every interview I get because of it.
Also, one of my local directors from the Miss America program helped me get my reporting job. She is a personal friend of the news director and introduced me. Networking and self-improvement is why I love to compete.
EC: Will we see you compete again?
Caity Jackson: I can compete in the Miss USA pageant until I am 27. I will be 23 in April so I still have some time. I am still undecided but I’m not sure where my career will take me in the next year or if there will be wedding bells in the future.
EC: Sounds like you could have a busy year coming up! I know you mentioned carry equipment and doing research for your stories, what else do you do besides being in front of the camera?
Caity Jackson: Oddly, being in front of the camera is the least thing I do. I am a one-man band. So I shoot, edit, write, put times into the news program and even come up with story ideas.
EC: Has anyone compared you to any famous anchors yet?
Caity Jackson: Somewhat. Many people say I look like Holly Sonders from the Golf Channel… As a little girl I always wanted to be Katie Couric.
EC: In what ways do you think news reporting will change in the next few years?
Caity Jackson: More people go to Facebook for their news than watching it on their TV. Soon we will be all online and most likely pre-recorded.
EC: What is your ultimate professional goal?
Caity Jackson: I want to anchor – and not just anchor, but anchor for NBC News in New York City. I have been there and even picked out which window would be my office. I have always wanted to do sports and have done so for awhile, but once you get a taste of hard hitting news… it’s addicting.
EC: What do you do after a long day at work?
Caity Jackson: Not going to lie… Netflix an wine is very relaxing.
EC: Who are your biggest supporters?
Caity Jackson: My family, of course – even more so, my great friends and boyfriend, Tommy. He encourages me every day even from 3,000 miles away in California.
EC: Do you have any secret talents or ambitions that friends might not know?
Caity Jackson: I have always wanted to be a makeup artist. I read articles and watch videos all the time and test out the latest products.
EC: What qualifications does it take to become a news reporter?
Caity Jackson: You have to have a college degree, but the biggest thing is experience. It’s what you do while in college, projects you’ve worked, internships, jobs and extra things. It is really the icing on the cake for getting that interview.
EC: What do you bring to the job that other reporters do not have?
Caity Jackson: I have national live TV experience at only 22 years old and a wild personality that can make any boring interview into an adventure.
EC: News bloopers are extremely popular. Hopefully, we don’t see you on a blooper reel soon. But which mistake are you most likely to make?
Caity Jackson: Getting too comfortable with the camera can cause that. Once you forget it’s there you forget people are watching you. I most likely would try to say “fire truck” and it would sound like an expletive.
EC: What kind of stories do you want to report?
Caity Jackson: I want to report breaking news; they get your heart beating and keep you on your toes. My favorites are those that touch my heart. I did a story on a prom funded by the Tim Tebow Foundation for special needs. Those kids had the time of their lives and I was glad I was there to see it.
EC: That is really nice. On the other side, are there stories you wouldn’t do?
Caity Jackson: Boring or exciting, I will do them all!
EC: And last but not least – Top 3 songs to get you pumped up. Go!
Caity Jackson: Come Fly With Me – Michael Buble; Midnight City – M83; The whole Carter IV album by Lil Wayne… it reminds me of college.
EC: Great choices! I hope you had fun answering the questions. Will have to catch up again soon!
Caity Jackson: Thank you!
Stay tuned for the next interview in my series The Best Jobs in the World