Stephanie Scurlock, WREG-TV news Reporter/ Anchor, expresses how journalism has transitioned into a different era. Scurlock has been reporting since the early ‘90s and was the only Memphis reporter to cover the case of the West Memphis 3 from the time of their arrest and convictions in 1994 until their release 18 years later. She refers back to when she started in the 1990s when social media such as Twitter, and Instagram weren’t at the world’s disposal.
CM: What drove you to become a journalist? What influences from the time or era did you have?
SS: I always liked finding out the “why” about things. I was influenced by the reporters and anchors I watched growing up in Arkansas. That’s what drove me in my entire career. How can this story impact or help another? This question was always with me, when I began my career, in the back of my head. I even catch myself now wondering, how can this story change someone’s outlook?
CM: How have you seen it change since journalism started?
SS: The industry is a lot faster. The days of waiting to get information on the 5pm and 10pm news are over. It’s simply non-existent because of how the industry has changed. News agencies most adapt to social media and the internet to have the news of the day at the fingertips of the public.
CM: You started as a reporter in 1991, do you think there was more work involved because you weren't provided with modern technology that we have?
SS: There were fewer resources available to find the background of a story. The internet wasn’t available to me when I first started as a news reporter so it took more “leg work” to develop a story. Just more time and effort to actually recover information, like digging for treasure in a desert. However, most news stations did not have as many newscasts as they do today.
CM: Do you believe that investigative reporting is dead? Or even possible in anymore?
SS: Investigative reporting is NOT dead. It is more important now than ever before. It’s how most corruption is uncovered on a daily basis.
CM: With Twitter and Instagram how hard is it to discover news first?
SS: News is also on Twitter and other forms of social media. News stations post the top stories of the day online in some form well before they air it on the local newscasts.
CM: As the audience watching many stories on different new stations (WREG, CNN), we only see the reporter explaining and giving us the information. How hard is it recovering the stories?
SS: Before the story ever makes air, the reporter and photographer have gone out and done interviews, researched background material, written copy (script) and video has been shot and edited to create what viewers see as the final product on the air. Journalism is not just a sit down and read a teleprompter type of business.
CM: In 2015 do you have to search for stories or dig up information? Or is this kind of information handed to you or at your fingertips?
SS: A reporter searches for stories. Nothing is handed out. They have to search and recover. They check their contacts in government, police records and neighborhoods to see what’s going on and the issues that matter. However, often times people email or call-in stories to the news station.
CM: We know anything looks easy if you are not personally doing the job. So how much work is it behind the scenes? What is it that we don't get to see?
SS: You don’t see the planning that goes into the story. All the work it takes to find the interviews and all the work it takes to write a story so it’s clear and understandable to the public. It takes all the team to make a story newsworthy. It takes days and many, many hours.
CM: Many say that newspapers are becoming obsolete because there is so much available online and papers like the New York Times and The Huffington Post. have all transitioned to online newspapers. Do you feel as though we still need the newspaper? Should they all just go to online papers?
SS: I still subscribe to the daily newspaper. I think newspapers are still a necessity. Many people still do not have access to the internet, especially in rural areas. So when others say that newspapers are dead I don't completely agree. Although, I feel most newspapers must post content online to remain relevant.
CM: With the bloggers, YouTube sensations, and some stating their opinions just through video. Do you see journalism going in a positive direction?
SS: I do see journalism going in a positive direction. I see a lot of other avenues in which the news of the day can be delivered. There isn't a right way to get the news out there and never will be. They way people receive the news will constantly change. However, one must be leery of some blogs and YouTube sites that are opinion driven.
CM: Where do you see journalism headed with the new era of journalist?
SS: I think digital media is where journalism is headed in the future. People don’t want to wait for news. The journalists who survive this industry will have to adapt to that. However, we are not totally there, yet. Television viewers are still loyal, with the exception of Millennials.