We had the good fortune of connecting with Mikayla Newton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mikayla, what role has risk played in your life or career?
When I graduated from Georgia State University in 2019, I took one of the biggest risks of my life. During this time I was freelancing at CNN and HLN occasionally, working to try and get a full-time position. I had also been applying to local news stations to begin my career in broadcast journalism. After applying to multiple and not hearing back until 6 months after graduation, I finally heard back from a news director in Upstate New York. Once I had an over the phone interview and was given very minor details about the position and the area of the station, I decided to go for it and take a risk. Not only was I leaving behind family, friends, a social life, and everything that I had ever known, but I was embarking on a brand new journey…adulting. I uprooted my entire life in hopes that this one opportunity would eventually lead me to a lifestyle that I ultimately want to live. Although, I am miles away from family, friends, a social life, and literally in the middle of nowhere, I am understanding that covering news at a small market a local news station has taught me so much about myself, others, the state of the political climate, and has altered my ideas about what’s next for me in life. From this point on, I am no longer afraid of taking risks, and understand that in order to be successful, sometimes risks have to be taken.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am currently a reporter and anchor for WETM-TV in Upstate New York. In my position as a MMJ (multimedia journalist) reporter, I seek local news and report it to our viewers during the 5, 5:30, and 6 p.m. evening shows. That entails of interviewing people about a certain subject, writing the story, editing it, and having it ready to air to be live during the shows. On the weekends, I am my own producer and anchor. I make the entire show, edit it, and anchor it on Saturdays and Sundays. Now you see why they call it a ‘one man band’. What got me here was persistence. I would not have any of the experience that I have it wasn’t for me constantly making the effort to be and do better. It comes from late nights, and early mornings of just making an effort. Was it easy? Absolutely not. In fact, this has been the hardest thing Iv’e ever done in my life. I have had so many learning curves and information overload, but I understand that without being uncomfortable, there is no growth. I’ve learned about the many layers of journalism, that you can’t learn just by going to school. I’ve really learrned how to connect with my sources, that every story counts, and each story has a direct impact on the lives of the people that you cover. I’ve made many mistakes, but the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that it’s ok to make those mistakes because I am human. Giving myself the permission to be human is one thing that I will take with me in my career. Starting my career not just only during a global pandemic, but also during an international outcry for equality and justice for black people has really made a stamp for what’s to be expected in my field. My ability to sympathasize with my communtiy and for the people whose stories I cover daily is what sets me apart from others. The desire to do more, outside of work, is why I believe that I am living in my purpose.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The most intersting places that I have been while in Upstate New York has been the Watkins Glen area. This is the home of Watkins Glen International, where Nascar races take place. I enjoy going hiking on the trails, viewing waterfalls, going on wine tours, paddleboarding, and being adventurous and seeing what all the area has to offer.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mother and sister have literally been my backbone throuoghout my life, and even more so as I have grown throughout my journey in adulthood. I would be remised to acknowledge my grandparents and other family members who have also supported me. My many mentors that I have accrued from working at CNN, are constanly one text/ email away when I have questions or when I am seeking advise. Finally, my colleagues, who I have come to understand are in the same exact predicament as me, are always there to empathize with me.
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