It’s been seven months since Beth Penney graduated from CNA’s journalism program. Now she’s one of NTV’s newest and most enthusiastic reporters.
While most people in St. John’s are just getting up to start their day at 7 a.m., Beth Penney walks through the entrance of NTV studios.
Once inside, she sits at her news desk (next to news anchor Toni Marie-Wiseman’s ) and sips from her cup of hot tea. She updates the NTV News website and waits to speak to her assignment producer about her story for the popular NTV Evening Newshour.
Penney has come a long way in a short while.
Last June, Penney graduated from the journalism program offered by College of the North Atlantic in St. John’s. In July, she started a two-week on-the-job training mentorship at NTV. By the end of the summer, she was hired as the station’s newest reporter. This meant a whole new set of learning challenges – which she was extremely eager to take on.
“During my training, I shadowed every reporter here and learned things such as how to line up the proper shot and interviewing skills,” said Penney. “I found out you can learn so much in the classroom but once you’re actually out there doing it as a reporter, everything really comes into play – like learning how to convince someone to be a part of the story.
“Sometimes people will say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be on camera,’ but I have to convince them that it’s an important story and I’m going to do it with or without them. I haven’t had too many people turn me down, though, so that’s good,” Penney adds with a laugh.
An unexpected career shift
Being in front of the camera herself was not exactly what Penney envisioned during her years in the CNA journalism program. In fact, she spent six months working as a print reporter for The Telegram in 2017 and believed her career was headed in that direction.
All that changed once she arrived at NTV.
Even with her background in print, Penney was very quick to adapt to broadcast and now does most of the hands-on work herself.
“I do everything,” she explained. “I set up the camera, do the interview, shoot (the video) myself, do the editing and put the piece together. I can’t get over how quickly I got into everything here.”
Penney was so eager to learn the tools of the trade when she started, she would stay behind late to observe reporters Leila Beaudoin and Kelly-Anne Roberts edit their video stories. She also turned to senior producer Lynn Burry who urged Penney to sound more “authoritative” in her pieces.
“Lynn came down to the sound booth with me to help put more power in my voice,” Penney recalled.
Adapting and innovating
During her short time at NTV, Penney said, she has become a much more confident reporter. One reason is that she learns as much as she can about who she is interviewing beforehand. Another aspect she utilizes is to just sound natural and true to herself.
“I’ll go over my script with (NTV news anchor) Glen Carter and I’ll tell him, ‘That doesn’t sound like something that I’d say.’ At first I was afraid to do that but I’ve been getting better at saying that.”
Penney adapted fast and quickly impressed her co-workers.
“She’s been fantastic,” said Mark Dwyer, director of news and current affairs of NTV. “It’s incredible how adaptable Beth has been to our industry. She was obviously well-groomed in terms of her broadcast knowledge. Her work has been so good since she got here.”
NTV has been receptive to Penney’s ideas such as developing an NTV Instagram account. Another idea she initiated just this week was the online video checkpoint, which she uses to inform the online viewing audience about stories they can expect to see on that evening’s broadcast. She shoots and edits these checkpoints with the Videolicious app – a tool Penney learned to use as a student at CNA.
Dwyer, for one, welcomes these new innovative ideas.
“The young talent is taking our company to the next level,” he said with a laugh. Dwyer also notes that many members of the NTV news team began their journalism careers as interns including reporters Amanda Mews, Kelly-Ann Roberts and Heather Gillis.
And, now, NTV general reporter Beth Penney.
“I remember them saying to me when I started, ‘We want you to succeed here,’” Penney said. “I love it here, so I’ll stay as long as they’ll keep me.”
That is a strong profile of Beth. The lead hooked me instantly.