The Newfoundland Herald takes viewers inside the fast-paced world of NTV News, where reporters package stories for the most-watched television show in Newfoundland and Labrador – the NTV Evening Newshour
It’s late afternoon in mid-October and, as usual, there’s a flurry of activity inside NTV’s newsroom. However, this is an exceptionally busy day for the station’s award-winning team.
News Never Stops
Astaldi has mere hours to leave the Muskrat Falls work site after Nalcor issues a stop work order. Reporter Heather Gillis, who’s been a fixture with the station since graduating from Kings College in 2011, is vetting her interview with Nalcor boss Stan Marshall who calls the whole situation ‘regrettable’.
In an editing suite just a few feet away, legislative reporter Michael Connors is focused. The veteran reporter just returned from the Muskrat Falls Inquiry and, within minutes, is tasked with a breaking news story, and it’s not your typical political narrative.
The commissioner for legislative standards is recommending that Dale Kirby be reprimanded for an inappropriate comment toward Pam Parsons. Kirby is cleared of seven out of eight allegations. Well, with one notable exception … news emerges he and Liberal backbencher Pam Parsons smoked a joint during a private conversation outside a Gander hotel in 2016.
Yes, it’s a very strange day in news. Earlier in the day, Bart Fraize focuses his camera in provincial court as Paul Connolly is convicted of manslaughter in the 2016 stabbing death of Steven Neville. He races to another office, minutes later, for a major development in the highly-publicized case of former RNC officer Doug Snelgrove, acquitted of sexual assault last year. It looks like Snelgrove will face a new trial for the same charge, after provincial judges granted the Crown’s appeal of the case.
“It’s already been an incredible week with marijuana legalization, and now these stories are breaking. But this is what makes our industry so exciting,” says Mark Dwyer, NTV’s Director of News and Current Affairs.
“It’s times like this, though, when I come to truly appreciate just how much talent we have in our newsroom,” adds Dwyer, saluting the work of reporters Jodi Cooke and Kelly-Anne Roberts who led CTV’s national programming just days earlier after marijuana makes history in this country.
A Common Scene
It’s a common scene inside NTV’s fast-paced newroom 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. Editors wait for scripts from reporters Don Bradshaw and Colleen Lewis, the talented central and west coast correspondents who are fixtures in their region.
Meanwhile, Amanda Mews, one of the station’s most diverse employees, puts the finishing touches on her weekly show before heading out to film the latest installment of Your Community.
The award-winning NTV Evening Newshour is led by the veteran anchor team of Lynn Burry and Glen Carter, among two of the most identifiable and trusted names in journalism in this province. Burry – awarded the prestigious RTDNA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017 – recently celebrated her 35th anniversary with the station, much of it on the anchor desk. Carter broke into the broadcast industry with NTV in 1980 and left in 1982, spending over three decades as an anchor with stations in Halifax, Ottawa and Calgary. He moved back home in 2003 and has been a fixture with the show ever since.
“They are both consummate professionals, respected industry veterans, and bring so much talent to our desk,” says Dwyer, who has been leading NTV’s newroom since the summer of 2003.
The NTV Evening Newshour remains not only the province’s top newscast but is also the most-watched television program in Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, Toni-Marie Wiseman’s show, First Edition, is also one of the 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 Dwyer. “There’s a real appetite for local news and it’s our mandate to do just that.”
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 veteran anchor Toni-Marie Wiseman. There’s also The Sunday Evening Newshour, an hour-long broadcast anchored by Jodi Cooke and Heather Gillis. And when Burry and Carter aren’t anchoring the 6 o’clock show, they’re also fronting weekly half-hour programs – Burry with Issues and Answers (Sundays at noon) and Carter with Eyewitness News (Saturdays at 6:30).
“We have the busiest newsroom in the business, in my opinion, and it’s because of the talent and diversity of our team,” says Dwyer, who’s won a host of Atlantic and national journalism awards for his work on NTV over the years.
“It’s common to see our top reporters also anchoring throughout the week. That’s the type of dexterity that makes NTV News so strong.”
The NTV Evening Newshour continues to dominate the local market with upwards of 100,000 local viewers each night – with coverage spanning the entire province as well as national and international news. In fact, the audience balloons to well over 100,00 some nights, incredible when you realize just over 500,000 live in this province. There’s politics, court news, breaking news and features that appeal to the masses, from features like Made Right Here, On the Mark, Backstage Pass and Places to Go to the latest addition, Inspiring NL.
The new Thursday feature, by Leila Beaudoin, profiles inspirational people in the community who are making a difference. “This is a feature I have been waiting to do for years, to celebrate the great things people in this province are doing,” says Beaudoin, who hails from Port Saunders and has been with NTV for the past four years. “We meet heroes in our community every day. Now I have this incredible opportunity to share more of these stories with our viewers.”
Dedication to the Craft
And there’s also Eddie Sheerr, the station’s chief meteorologist and one of the province’s most recognizable faces. Viewers in this province expect the most comprehensive weather package and Sheerr delivers, especially when severe weather systems hit.
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. It’s also about a dedication to the craft and a commitment to being first with the news. It’s a winning product, something they take great pride in.