Friday, January 21, 2011

Whitworth journalism alumna named runner-up for Montana Weathercaster of the Year award

Last summer, 2008 Whitworth alumna Shannon Newth received an E.B. Craney Award as first runner-up for Montana Weathercaster of the Year.

Newth is a morning anchor and weathercaster for KRTV, in her hometown of Great Falls, Mont. She says it is an honor to be nominated, especially considering that the other nominee was a 30-year veteran in weather broadcasting who had already won three E.B. Craney awards.

"I was thrilled and humbled to be nominated alongside such an experienced and well-known broadcaster," Newth says. "I have been reporting the weather for around two years and to be nominated early in my career for such an award is very special."

On June 26, Newth was given her award at the Montana Broadcasters Association Convention, in Whitefish, Mont. Her nomination marks the first time since 2003 that a KRTV weathercaster has been nominated for the award.

Named in memory of Montana broadcast pioneer Ed Craney, the E.B. Craney Awards recognize excellence in local news, production, promotion and public service.

Newth wears many hats at KRTV. She is a producer, anchor, weathercaster, reporter, photographer and editor at the station. She says she enjoys having her hand in deciding how stories will be told, what order they will go in, and adding new material and elements to the morning show.

"I love the opportunity I have every weekday morning to connect with the viewers," Newth says. "We have a lot of fun in the mornings, but we also put a lot of hard work and thought into what goes out on-air."

Newth co-anchors and co-produces the morning newscast, Montana This Morning, and a daily segment called Medical Minute. Waking up at 2 a.m. for the morning newscast is one of her least favorite aspects of the job, she says.

Newth enjoys learning about people in her community through feature stories, and she has a special interest in medical, health and fitness related stories. One of her favorite parts of her job is meeting a variety of people and learning about what's happening in her community.

"The most motivating and fulfilling aspect of my job is the chance to make a difference in someone's life, the opportunity to tell someone's story, and the daily invitation into someone's home through our broadcast," Newth says.

During her junior year of high school, Newth had to write a report on a possible career she might choose. While watching CNN with her parents one night, she saw the anchorwoman and thought, "I could do that" – not realizing at the time how much work and experience is required to work for CNN. She researched more about television broadcasting and knew by the time she came to Whitworth that she wanted to pursue it as a career.

Newth encourages students interested in broadcasting to complete an internship. Her introduction to KRTV came with an internship there the summer after her freshman year at Whitworth, where she shadowed reporters and learned how the station operated. Two years later she returned as an intern to anchor the weekend weather. She completed an internship with Spokane's KHQ during her junior year. Newth also encourages students to network with others in journalism and to push themselves out of their comfort zones to find the best stories.

At Whitworth, Newth ran cross country for four years. She was also actively involved in ASWC, as a dorm representative and later an RA in Duvall, a member of the senior class committee, and a member of Bill Robinson's presidential leadership group.

"The time I spent involved with student life at Whitworth really influenced my life and my heart," Newth says. "I loved being involved with students and I loved the mission of Whitworth's residence life, so much so I decided I wanted to have an impact on students' lives the way I had been affected in my time at Whitworth."

Newth describes broadcast journalism as a difficult but rewarding job in which journalists have to develop a thick skin. She also considers it a misunderstood field because of stereotypes and misconceptions about working in the media. Still, she thinks the benefits outweigh the negative perceptions.

"You get the opportunity to meet so many different people and experience some very interesting, adventuresome, and sometimes heartbreaking situations that many people will never experience," Newth says. "I love the opportunity that lies in each day."

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.