NTV’s Beth Penney talks seizing opportunities and making the most of any situation in this can’t-help-but-feel-good one-on-one
In a word, Beth Penney is sunshine. Smiling and cheery, she lights up The Herald’s office as she takes a few minutes from her busy day – and her increasingly popular NTV morning update – to sit for an interview.
While Penney is new to the NTV team, she says she actually felt right at home from day one. Penney was the proud recipient of the Geoff Stirling Memorial Award for Journalism in 2018, awarded to an outstanding student at the CNA’s journalism program.
Included in that prestigious win was an opportunity to job shadow at NTV’s award-winning news room. “It was amazing,” Penney begins, adding in adorable fashion one of the reasons why this was so; “Because my desk was attached to Toni-Marie Wiseman’s.”
Penney, like so many in this province, grew up watching the popular supper-hour show each day. “When you grow up watching NTV, you don’t really see how tight-knit everyone is. I thought ‘I’ll never see Lynn Burry or Glen Carter’ and all of a sudden, I’m right there.”
Rising to the Occasion
While Penney wasn’t expecting to stick around after she punched in her job-shadowing hours, she says she made sure she remained around as long as possible. “I was taught in school; be there for everything. Make yourself useful. So I did,” she says with a smile. In hindsight, that sort of positive attitude certainly seemed to work to her advantage.
And the astute journalist certainly made her presence felt during her multi-week work term, working in front of and behind the camera, helping with technical issues and, well, all other aspects of the business. “Beth showed real initiative and is a very hard worker. That was obvious from the first day she arrived here,” says Lynn Burry, NTV’s senior producer, who also began her career at NTV at about the same age in the 1980s. “Beth certainly has a lot of potential and has a real interest in covering news.”
The 24-year-old, who says she loves the news room’s fast pace and energy, was rewarded following her work term.
One day, a few months after her job-shadowing had ended, she received a call from NTV News Director Mark Dwyer. It was a call that would kick-start her journalism career – a job interview to work with the province’s award-winning news team. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, a chance to work with people I admire as a journalist,” says Penney, who graduated from Prince of Wales Collegiate in St. John’s in 2012. “It’s also a great place to learn. School can prepare you for the job, but there’s no comparison to what you can learn for working alongside people like Lynn, Glen and Toni-Marie every day.”
Dressed for Success
Of course, Penney knows how to rise to just about any occasion. Just a few weeks into her journalism program at CNA, she was tapped to travel and cover the opening of the college’s new Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Technician program in Antigua and Barbuda.
“I don’t think we had even taken a picture yet, but one of my instructors said I stood out because I always dressed up while everyone else was in sweatpants,” she jokes.
Besides covering the opening, she took full advantage of the scenery, taking some amazing photos for her school’s photography assignments while there. The impromptu trip aided in other areas as well, she adds. “It helped with my interview skills. I mean, I was just thrown in to sort of just do it, so I did, and it was great.” Armed with the knowledge that standing out and being willing gets you noticed, Penney says she does her best each and every day at NTV.
“Amanda (Mews) gave me some great advice. She said when she first started working at NTV she did whatever she could – even if it was grabbing someone a coffee or helping to tidy up. She worked hard at being helpful. I try to adapt that philosophy as well,” says Penney.
She’s already shown great initiative. Penney started NTV’s Instagram account and began taping NTV’s ‘Morning Updates’ – a digital media synopsis of the top stories in the news each morning. “No matter what job you have, do something that stands out. Do something that will get you noticed in a positive way,” she says.
“That’s why I love Instagram. You see behind the scenes, that we are real people doing the work here, and people love to see that. And the Morning Updates? It’s just something we’re keeping an eye on, so stick around for more,” she says smiling.
Is she really always this happy? It’s hard not to be when you are living the dream, she shares sincerely. “I can’t express how great everyone has been. An environment like this can be intimidating. I mean, I grew up watching Lynn, Glen and Toni-Marie. And now, every one of them have been so welcoming and sweet and helpful.”
Just months into her new career, Penney has already covered a wide array of stories, from hard news to lighter feature-type pieces. She covered Anne Norris’ appeal trial in provincial court and was in the courtroom for Ray Stacey’s latest case.
She was there to witness the arrival of over 70 immigrants to the province and, just last week, spoke with local activist Gemma Hickey prior to heading to Rome for the summit on sexual abuse within the Catholic church. Plus, she regularly speaks with viewers on the street for First Edition’s weekly ‘Speaker’s Corner’ – a perspective on the top stories of the day.
“Beth is very intelligent, is always prepared and embraces each assignment,” says NTV’s news director Mark Dwyer.
“The journalists in our newsroom thrive on being diverse and, well, Beth certainly has that. She can cover pretty much every story which is rare for a journalist new to the field. She’s been a great addition.”
Unique fan support
When asked if she’s been recognized she laughs and says yes, but she has one unique “fan” story that tops all others. “My aunt is a nun, and she lives in a convent in downtown St. John’s. The first night I was on NTV she and all the nuns were watching and she recorded their reaction; they were all screaming and cheering and jumping out of their chairs when I came on. So that was fun.”
Well, if ‘the sisters’ are cheering you on, then you pretty much have it made, we figure! Penney laughs.
“I’m excited to be going to work each day. I’m having so much fun. Even doing interviews outside in the poor weather is great because I love talking to people. It makes the job fun and I love it.”