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Channel 8 anchorwoman speaks to students
“A likeable person to hang out with . outgoing, passionate.”
Those are the words New Channel 8 journalist Sara Welch used to describe the ideal journalist. Welch spoke to students at the Society of Professional Journalists meeting March 5. Welch, 38, is a reporter and weekend anchor at WTNH in New Haven. Her description of a journalist is one that Welch herself personified for a few students.
“I definitely was inspired by her,” said Hayley Foster, a freshman broadcast journalism major. “Although I know it’s a competitive field, she inspired me to pursue this, even though it can be intimidating.”
Liz Dietz, a public relations major, appreciated the weight of Welch’s words, even though they aren’t fully relevant to her future plans.
“I could see how broadcast majors would be inspired by her story,” Dietz said.
The inspiration Welch drew from her listeners was conveyed in her presence. A friendly smile and confident speech invited questions from the students. This same confidence pushed Welch to pursue her first job in journalism, a 900-mile trip from her home in Burlington, Vt., to Alpena, Mich.
“I had the passion. That’s why I packed my car and moved to Alpena,” said Welch, who worked for five months in the second smallest television market in the nation and earned $6 an hour.
While her friends and peers were pursuing extravagant lives in cities like Boston and New York City, Welch was busy soaking up all she could from the small-town television news station.
“I learned as I went. It was a good experience,” Welch said. “When you start in a really small market, you’re covering things like the beavers damned the river and people are mad.”
A sense of humor and easygoing demeanor have helped Welch during her 15-year career. After leaving Alpena, she spent the next three years elsewhere in the Midwest, before working for three years in Albany, N.Y. It took her five televisions stations before she was hired at WTNH in 2000. “It’s a great place to work. A lot of running around. I like the day-to-day grind,” Welch said.
Still, Welch reminisced about her time at the smaller stations.
“I would never trade it for anything,” Welch said. She cited the experiences she had and the people she met as character-shaping and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. She also advised students to make resume tapes when they work in the small markers.