NTV: First with the News

The Newfoundland Herald takes viewers inside the fast-paced world of NTV News, where award-winning reporters package stories for the most-watched television show in Newfoundland and Labrador, The NTV Evening Newshour

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it. That’s no truer anywhere than it is here at NTV News.” — Glen Carter

That piece of wisdom came from respected anchor Glen Carter during his retirement address to NTV viewers on March 4, 2021.

And while NTV News may have lost its revered conductor that night, the band plays on. And make no mistake it remains a finely-tuned orchestra, positioned to entertain audiences for many years to come.

Despite Carter’s departure, NTV is blessed with some of the province’s most talented and trusted journalists. Carter’s long-time co-anchor, Toni-Marie Wiseman, has been a constant with the station for over three decades and is one of the most identifiable faces in broadcasting. 

Joining her at the anchor desk is friend and colleague Michael Connors, best known for his outstanding work as NTV’s legislative reporter for the past decade.

‘A strong friendship’

“Michael and I have worked closely together for many years (our desks are side by side) and because of that, we’ve developed a strong friendship,” says Wiseman. “We know each other so well that sometimes we can read each other’s minds. It’s been a pretty seamless and effortless transition from working together in the newsroom to anchoring together on the Evening Newshour desk.”

The NTV Evening Newshour, weekdays at 6 p.m., remains not only the province’s top newscast, but is also the most-watched television program in Newfoundland and Labrador. Wiseman, one of Newfoundland and Labrador television’s most iconic personalities, remains at the helm. 

Connors, of course, has won the respect of viewers for his work at NTV and is the perfect choice to fill Carter’s place at the desk. Aside from the flagship supper-hour show, the newsroom generates a host of NTV News programming. There are daily morning news checkpoints, a half-hour Newsday program (weekdays at noon) and the popular NTV News: First Edition (weekdays at 5:30), hosted by Wiseman. There’s also The Sunday Evening Newshour, an hour-long broadcast anchored by Jodi Cooke and Amanda Mews.

In fact, Wiseman’s 5:30 p.m. show, First Edition, is also one of the province’s most-watched programs. “Our commitment to news has never wavered. While our competitors have found ways to reduce local news programming, we continue to grow,” says Mark Dwyer, Director of News and Current Affairs. 

“There’s a real appetite for local news and it’s our mandate to do just that.”

And just like any good orchestra, or team, there’s a host of performers who deliver. “There’s so much versatility and talent in our newsroom. It’s not uncommon for a reporter to leave the field to sit at the anchor desk, from one day to the next,” Dwyer adds. “We are fortunate to have a team of journalists who are very passionate about their work and informing viewers.”

Speaking of versatility, Jodi Cooke, co-host of The Sunday Evening Newshour, is also a regular host of NTV Newsday and is one of the most-seasoned television reporters in the province. 

Cooke is noted for, among many of her attributes, her ability to go live – dissecting information to deliver key news to the audience.

Like Cooke, Amanda Mews has hosted everything from morning news and entertainment checkpoints, to Newsday to First Edition and the Evening Newshour. You can also find her, on occasion, delivering the weather forecast when Eddie Sheerr is out of the office. 

Backstage Pass

Did we mention she’s co-host of The Sunday Evening Newshour, and as the station’s popular entertainment reporter, she has a weekly feature (Backstage Pass) and hosts a weekly half-hour entertainment show. Oh, and is the main reporter for the daily ‘Your Community’ feature.

Like Mews, veteran journalist David Salter has hosted many of the same programs from time to time – news and entertainment checkpoints, Newsday and even First Edition and Sunday on occasions. Salter also hosts his own weekend news program, Eyewitness News. 

When he’s not hosting Salter is filling news stories as a general assignment news reporter.

Ben Cleary is another reporter impacted by Carter’s retirement and he has also stepped up to fill the void. 

With Connors replacing Carter on the anchor desk, Cleary has assumed Connors’ place as the newsroom’s legislative reporter. Cleary, who has political science and journalism degrees, has earned his chops with his excellent coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, among other things. In fact, Cleary was named most promising young journalist at the 2021 Atlantic Journalism Awards.

And perhaps NTV’s secret weapon is assignment editor Bart Fraize, who has been covering the courts and breaking news for many years. Fraize’s work ethic is unrivaled. 

It’s an intangible that separates him from his peers – the willingness to answer every call, good or bad, day or night, rain or shine. And he does so without fanfare, evading praise like it’s a punishment. “I’m just doing my job,” he quips, shrugging his shoulders.

Beth Penney is journalism’s answer to the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ – someone who can be relied upon to fill just about any role in the newsroom, a talented reporter who has the skillset to do so much more – anchor work and feature reporting. You’ll also see her regularly host the ‘Your Community’ feature.

NTV’s New talent

A pair of newcomers to the business, Bailey Howard and Marykate O’Neill, are relatively new additions to the newsroom, but both bring a talent beyond their years – covering all sorts of stories.

And, finally, the most recent hire in the newsroom may be a newcomer to television, but not to journalism. After over three decades at The Telegram, Rosie Mullaley made the switch from print just weeks before Carter’s retirement. 

Of course, that’s the St. John’s newsroom. Two of the province’s most familiar journalists are outside the overpass – Don Bradshaw and Colleen Lewis, the talented west coast and central correspondents who are fixtures with the NTV news brand.

“I challenge you to find a more talented, dedicated, multi-dimensional team,” said Dwyer with admiration and pride. “You simply won’t. This is a team I am so proud to be a part of.”

It’s a go-go business and all these players contribute to the performances viewers see every night. It’s a common scene inside NTV’s fast-paced newsroom as reporters craft their stories and camera operators gear up for the evening’s live hit. 

The production crew, led by Donnie Decker, prepares for the 5:30 and 6 o’clock live shows. It’s hectic, but the team appears in total control, each focused on the task at hand. 

There’s also the usual newsroom banter as reporters share the developments of the day. It’s like a fine-tuned engine. And like Decker, there are others behind the camera you don’t see, camera operators like Tony Barrington and Glenn Andrews, both incredibly talented and veterans of the business. 

Barrington has seen it all in his 43-year career with NTV where he has served in a multitude of roles, including producer, while Andrews is noted for his creativity and excellence as both a shooter and editor.

And while some could argue that his orchestra lost its conductor when Carter retired, it has retained the true mastermind of this excellent news team, news director Dwyer who guides, supports and encourages his staff to reach their full potential.

Dwyer, of course, is known to many as the longest-serving sports reporter in the province’s history, but is also, as Carter pointed out, the glue that holds the team together.

“Our audience is loyal. They depend on us (for information) and we take that responsibility very seriously,” says Dwyer, who’s been leading the station’s newsroom since 2013. “However, our talented team continues to attract new viewers and that’s a result of talent, old-fashioned hard work and commitment.”

It’s no secret that NTV News has been number one in the ratings for over two decades. Incredibly, as conventional news audiences decrease throughout much of the world, NTV’s brand continues to grow. 

For a province of about 500,000 people, over 100,000 of them tune into NTV each day at 6 o’clock and just under 90,000 for First Edition at 5:30. Numbers continue to climb each year. The Sunday Evening Newshour also grew its audience with over 50,000 viewers tuning in each weekend.

There’s no secret recipe to NTV’s success over the years, but the ingredients are obvious. It takes talent, hard work and leadership. 

It’s about telling stories and keeping viewers informed, and never has there been an era more important than doing just that.