Interview Assessment 7
Name of Professional: Valerie Wigglesworth
Profession: Frisco and Collin County Reporter
Company: Dallas Morning News
Date of Interview: 7 November, 2016
At my meeting with Valerie Wigglesworth of Dallas Morning News, I learned the importance of making your presence as a journalist known in the community in which you report. Ms. Wigglesworth covers strictly Frisco and Collin County, so she has a more limited range of subject matter than someone covering a large city or bigger region. She has to have a way of knowing what is happening in Frisco in all realms of the community at all times. There is only so much information that research can get you; in reality, many of the best story ideas travel by word of mouth. By getting to know people involved in all different areas of Frisco, forming relationships or partnerships with certain businesses, and making her work known, Wigglesworth opens doors to new information. People start to come to her with story ideas and noteworthy events once they know that she is in the market for Collin County stories. From this, I learned that people are the best outlet for information on any story; talking to multiple different people when acquiring sources guarantees that you are hearing every side of a story, every unique perspective that spectators have to offer.
Furthermore, a personal story from Ms. Wigglesworth changed the way I view the purpose of journalism forever. Wigglesworth mentioned in our interview that the most rewarding aspect of journalism is seeing her work help others. She detailed one instance in which she wrote a story about how older bathtubs have a higher risk of showing traces of lead. Baths like these can lead to unsafe levels of lead and consequently major health problems, a little known fact to most in the community of Frisco. After the story was published, Wigglesworth received an email from a woman who lived in a historic house with two young children. The woman had gotten her tub tested for lead after reading the article, and sure enough, the test came back positive. The woman thanked Wigglesworth profusely, saying that she would never have known about the potential health risks to her and her children without the information presented in the article. Wigglesworth mentioned how this story renewed her sense of purpose as a journalist, as she enjoys more than anything giving people information they did not even know they needed. This story stuck with me more than any aspect of any of my informational interviews, because it is the kind of experience that I can only hope to have one day working as a journalist. After hearing this experience, I dedicated myself to seeking out stories that can help people, in any way, shape, or form. I want my stories to be more than just entertaining or pretty- I want them to be insightful, interesting, and beneficial.
We also touched on the role of social media in journalism in our interview, as Ms. Wigglesworth is quite a presence on Twitter. This topic was one that I was conducting independent research on at the time as well, so hearing Ms. Wigglesworth’s opinions enhanced my understanding of its implications in the professional world. Twitter, as Wigglesworth mentioned, is where journalists can get the most recent information that the world has to offer. She often checks Twitter before publishing a story to ensure that her facts are the most updated that they can be, and that her information is thorough and consistent with the most current reports. She also gets quotes from stories through social media, making acquiring sources and quotes from them much easier. This encouraged me to start following major news organizations on social media, and start paying attention to public opinion, to ensure that I am always up to date and do not miss a beat on the latest happenings with current events.