Carly Hildyard is a general assignment reporter for FOX8.
Woven: What made you want to be a journalist?
Carly: I’m surprised I didn’t think of it sooner. I really wanted to be a woman in STEM because a lot of my family is in engineering or in sales, so I was surprised I didn’t do that. It never occurred to me to be a journalist. When I was in college, I realized I didn’t enjoy engineering as much as I thought I would. I had kind of romanticized the idea of being an engineer and I was like, no that’s definitely not for me. I had no idea what I wanted to do and thought about what I’m good at and what I like and I realized I really like news, I really like to write, I like to talk to people… Maybe I should be a journalist. I just switched gears and once I found it, I was like, boom! There you go, that’s the right path for me.
W: What appealed to you the most about broadcast journalism?
C: There are a few things. I never considered print journalism because I really fell in love with the idea of visual storytelling and using video and audio and imagery to tell a story. I think the biggest appeal was the access it gives you, and I don’t mean access to cool events, I mean the access to the community and to see parts that no one else gets to. I get to talk to people on a daily basis who are so different from me, or who I would never encounter in my life for any other reason other than we were doing a story. Today I got to go to a live fire training with a bunch of firefighters. I probably never would’ve seen that in my life if not for being a journalist. I think it’s the way you get to connect with people and the way that you get to dial into your community.
W: It’s tough to break into TV. How’d you do it?
C: I looked all over the country and got a handful of job offers and I picked PCB because I had a friend who worked at that station. You’re making mistakes, there’s a huge learning curve and there’s constant criticism to get you better. College can prepare you really well in this industry for the nuts and bolts. College prepared me to frame an interview properly, to write a story, to edit, to pop up on camera, all that I learned in college and was as prepared as I possibly could be, but nothing can really prepare you like being on the job. It was a really hard few years down there, but it was worth it to be here.
A lot of it is crime, and that part weighs on you, but luckily in the mix are some cool stories, and even if it’s once a month, that’s what really gets you going.
W: Speaking of crime, do you ever feel desensitized?
C: Some people absolutely do. I’ve seen dead bodies on the job. I’ve held women whose husbands or children have died. For some people, they can shut it down and just do the nuts and bolts reporting, but for me, that’s not what I think makes a good journalist. It might make a good reporter, but not a storyteller and a journalist. I think empathy is a key component of being in this job. A lot of us in the business say, “You’re a human first and a journalist second.” If you lose that or you become too desensitized, I think you lose a big part of what makes a good journalist.
W: Let’s talk about being a woman on TV. What is the pressure like in that aspect?
C: There’s a big network of female newscasters online; there’s like 5,000 of us who share tips, support each other, talk about the business, laugh, cry, joke, post job openings. I have heard them share stories about discrimination because they look a certain way, because they don’t look a certain way.
Sometimes I think, what do I need to do? Do I need to get invisalign? Do I need to lose ten pounds? Do I need to go on acne medicine? These are things that I think about when I see myself on TV. The pressure is definitely there and I have no problems admitting that because I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have insecurities or feel the pressure. There’s definitely a pressure to conform to this image, which I get to an extent, because the last thing you want to be is distracting on television, you want people to focus on your reporting, not on your look, but at the same time, I think it’s also bullshit.
W: What’s an average day like?
C: The flow is the same: come in, pitch your story, get your story, go out and hunt for your story and try to gather it before deadline and go live. I try to pitch three strong story ideas a day. The hardest part of my job is coming up with story ideas.
As a multimedia journalist, they’re good about only giving me one thing to do a day. However, today I had to have a presence in three different shows, so my full story aired at 5:00 pm, I had a shorter version for the 6:00 pm show and then another short version for the 10:00 pm showing, so you’re doing stuff for every show, and then in addition to that, you’re making web videos, you’re writing up your own web articles, you’re putting them forward on social media.
You never know what the day’s going to throw at you. You can go in with one vision and start your day with one thing and end up with something completely different.