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Visiting News Channel 8: A Dream Come True

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at USFSP chapter.

Friday, April 14th was one for the books. On that day, my friends and I got a private tour of News Channel 8 from the one and only, Mark Douglas.


Mark Douglas is an Investigative journalist who has worked at News Channel 8 since 1995, and is best known for his “You Paid For It” segments. These segments focus on uncovering the truth of corrupt people, organizations, and places where taxpayers’ money goes to. Mark is so phenomenal at delivering powerful, truth-seeking stories that he ended up winning an Emmy in 2012.


So how did I get this amazing journalist to give me and my friends a private tour of News Channel 8? Well the professor of my Beginning Reporting class, Tony Silvia, is good friends with Mark and invited him to give a presentation on what it’s like to be a journalist for a TV station. Mark’s presentation really excited me (after all, I want to be a broadcast journalist), and I knew I had to see if he would be willing to give me and some of my friends a tour of News Channel 8. Within two seconds of asking him, he quickly replied “Sure!”.


So how did the actual tour go? Let’s start from the very beginning.


When my friends and I first walked into the News Channel 8 building, we saw a bunch of small T.V. monitors broadcasting different segments as well as huge posters of all the News Channel 8 reporters– talk about a grand entrance!

The security guard called Mark to let him know we had arrived, and once Mark came down, our tour had begun!


The very first thing we saw on the tour was the makeup room where all the reporters get ready, and obviously all us girls made sure our makeup and hair looked good (don’t judge, those mirrors were fantastic!). While we were doing that, Leigh Spann, one of the meteorologists at News Channel 8, walked into the room. Leigh was so graciously kind and welcoming to us; she had the biggest smile on her face. She told us how she gets to the studio everyday at 1:30 A.M., like as in the MORNING. Now if that’s not commitment and dedication to your job, I don’t know what is.


So then we get to the actual recording room and the first thing we see is the official News Channel 8 table, flashing before us… no big deal. I couldn’t stop smiling; it was such an exciting moment! And when Mark asked if we wanted our pictures at the table, I secretly died a little. To sit behind that desk, while having the lights flash on my face, and see myself on the T.V. monitor…that is a moment I will never forget. In that moment, I felt like I was seeing a glimpse of my future.

Fun fact about the recording room: all the cameras are robotic! One person controls all four cameras, all from a push of a button. While I was still trying to grasp that concept, Leigh came back over and graciously gave us the inside scoop of how meteorologists report the weather. She showed us her desk where she does all of her research, all the monitors that she looks at when we the viewer think she’s looking at the map, and she explained how she has to ad lib her part of the show and how she normally only gets 30 seconds to do this.


Then we went to the main room and let me tell you, they call it the main room for a reason. We saw associate producers, the news director, general reporters, sound editors, videographers, video editors, directors, people on the marketing team, etc., all in that room. We even got the chance to talk to some of them and learn more about what their job entails (fun fact: one of the associate producers said she likes all her reporters’ segments to be 95 seconds or less– she said her ideal time for a story is 20-30 seconds). All of the people there, even the people we didn’t get the chance to talk to, were so friendly and welcoming to us. It really felt like a family there. One of the coolest and most surreal parts of the tour, was seeing the director orchestrating the 11 AM show. We saw her speaking into a headset, giving directions to the different areas (sound, audio, stage director, etc.) and we saw all the different T.V. monitors that showed clips either playing, have played, or were about to be played. I’ve always loved broadcast journalism, but now, I highly respect it.

We then ended the tour by getting an exclusive in-studio viewing of the live 11:30/12 P.M. news. So while the audience saw Stacie Schaible and Marco Villarreal reporting the news from their TV, the girls and I were right behind the cameras, watching them in person. While I was watching them (which by the way, they were amazing…so professional!), I looked around the entire room and I felt so humbled and excited for my future.


Mark, on behalf of all my friends and I, thank you so much for this tour. It truly was life-changing for us. It gave us excitement and inspiration for our future. You, along with all the other reporters on the News Channel 8, are superheroes in my eyes. You all make your jobs look so easy, which I know now it’s not. It’s a job where you have to be super focused and committed all the time and where you’re constantly working against a deadline. Yet despite all this pressure, when you get on air, you present your segments in such a charismatic and effortless way. You’re a great reporter and person, and maybe one day we’ll be working together!


To learn more information about News Channel 8 team go to: http://wfla.com/news-team/ and to learn more about Mark’s “You Paid For It” segment, go to: http://wfla.com/category/8-on-your-side/you-paid-for-it/  (seriously check his segments out, they are phenomenal!)



Kelli Carmack

Hi, I'm Kelli Carmack! I am a senior Mass Communications Major at USFSP with a minor in Art History. I'm currently the Co-President of Her Campus at USFSP, a leadership role I hold dear to my heart. I have some pretty big dreams for myself. I plan on getting into the broadcast journalism and/or entertainment field. I hope to one day be the next Barbara Walters, sitting down with prominent people and asking them those hard-hitting questions. While I'm not busy focusing on my career goals, I enjoy going to the beach, painting and reading!
A Mass Communications Major with a passion for inspiring others.