Newport News Public Schools TV and the Telecommunications Center

female reporter head shot, reporting, and anchoring
Kelsey Jones at WTKR, reporting for Telecom, and anchoring VCU InSight

Kelsey Jones, who attended the NNPS Telecom program, is currently working in the industry, at WTKR News 3 in Norfolk.

A 2015 Woodside High graduate, Jones always loved news and journalism. She grew up watching the Today show and Good Morning America, as well as WTKR, which is the local CBS affiliate.

Her route to Telecom was somewhat circuitous, however.

At Woodside, Jones was interested in dance, and enrolled in the Arts — rather than the Communications — magnet program.

Before too long, though, she was intrigued by the TV Production program at the Telecommunications Center, as it seemed like a good opportunity to get experience in broadcasting and journalism.

"I joined to learn camera operation, and being in front of and behind the camera" Jones said. "I wanted to know if it was something I wanted to pursue in college."

She participated for both her junior and senior years (TV-I and TV-II), joining the student crew for sports productions like football games and track meets, and other school events. Her job was on-air talent, which means being a reporter or anchoring/hosting a show, but she "still had to learn how to work the camera," she said.

At Telecom, Jones enjoyed gaining experience in broadcasting and trying out the various jobs. She admits she found it "nerve-racking" at deadline time: gathering the many elements of a story and then having to put it all together made her worry if it would turn out how she wanted.

"Now every day I put together stories in a very short time," she said.

Jones went on to study Broadcast Journalism at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond.

There she gained more broadcasting and journalism experience through her coursework and assignments, which included writing for print and internet as well as television. Her senior year, she was part of VCU InSight, which is an award-winning news show produced by undergraduate broadcast journalism students at VCU.

"That was a whole semester of pitching stories, getting approval from my professors, getting the interview, shooting and editing everything," Jones said.

It's training to be what's known as an "MMJ," or multimedia journalist, which means one person reporting, shooting, and editing news stories.

Besides reporting, Jones sometimes anchored the InSight newscast as well.

Throughout her college studies, Jones was grateful for having Telecom experience.

"Each camera is different, but I knew all the basics," she said. "If I didn’t have Telecom, I would have been confused."

After college, Jones went to work as a bureau reporter in Northern Virginia. After a couple years there, she found out about a job opening in her hometown area, and jumped at the chance to work there.

Jones applied and sent in her "reel," which is a montage of takes – stories, stand-ups, live shots – for on-air talent to show their best work to the news director who is hiring.

After interviewing, Jones was hired. Her duties as a reporter include: finding and pitching stories, writing and sometimes shooting and editing stories – for multiple platforms. She has to work quickly on a daily deadline, and go live when needed.

Jones said she is a "people person" and she enjoys meeting new people every day.

"Making connections in the community and being a voice for the voiceless keeps me going," she added.

As far as advice for students interested in TV production/broadcasting, Jones said to remember that "the newsroom is more than being on air."

"There are so many jobs in the industry including photographers, producers, web producers," she noted. "Keep your options open."

She recommends emailing and interacting with people in those jobs early on to build up connections.

Studying journalism, gaining hands-on experience in various broadcast jobs, and making connections with people in the industry has led Jones right where she wants to be - near her hometown of Newport News and working for the station she grew up watching.