Imagine being in a world without a cell phone, without the Internet, without Facebook; a world where journalists had to find the location of a source without the help of Google Maps or a vehicle navigation system.
For Leslie Bohl Jones, News 4 WOAI anchor in San Antonio, this was how she learned to report.
“Now you can email someone. Back then you had to call or track someone down face-to-face, ” says the 1989 University of Texas graduate of Government and Journalism. “It was a little more personal.”
Thanks to resources like text messaging, Twitter and Facebook communication has become more instantaneous, she says.
“It has made my job a lot more interactive”.
Jones explains that during the major ice storm in the beginning of February, the News 4 WOAI Facebook page allowed the news team a great opportunity for interaction with their audience.
“They were able to let us know the conditions in their neighborhood. They were able to send in videos, pictures. It was more interactive and immediate.”
Although Jones admits to rarely posting on her Twitter page unlike her colleagues, she credits this outlet in helping create an interactive news environment.
“Social media has completely revolutionized what we do,” she says. “There are just so many ways it has changed what we do.”
Because e-mail had yet to come on to the scene when Jones first started her career, the only interaction the news station would get from the viewers was a phone call or an occasional letter.
“Now people can remain anonymous through e-mail, through texts, through posting on Facebook pages,” she says.
This allows them to share more information than maybe they normally would if they had to be identified, she explains.
There are three Facebook pages for WOAI that have been up for about two to three years.
“We have News 4 WOAI Today, we have a morning show Facebook page, and then we also have a News 4 general news Facebook page.”
Jones has been apart of the news world for over 20 years, but she began fighting to become a journalist before she even left school.
“You had to audition in order to do the upper course work,” says Jones. “There were 12 slots, and usually a hundred or so people would try out for these slots, and they would only take 6 boys and 6 girls.”
From the very start of her career, Jones learned that proving oneself is what this business is all about.
After one of the professors judging the try-outs told her that she didn’t have that “fire in the belly”, Jones knew that all she wanted to do was prove him wrong.
After three semesters, she finally got accepted into the program after proving her worth in internships at TV stations and writing for campus publications.
Journalism students today know all too well about working hard and the stress that comes with working to beat a deadline, but Leslie says that employers look for the ones that can get it done.
“You can have a fantastic GPA, you can come from the best Ivy League school, and if you don’t produce once you’re in the workforce, then you’re not going to go very far,” she explains. “Your college degree is only going to get you your first job.”
After graduation, Jones sent out resume tapes to future employers through the good old-fashion Post Office; almost unheard of for students nowadays who are required to email resumes to companies.
The process doesn’t end after the resume is sent, however. Jones recommends always following up with the employer and ask to meet with them face-to-face.
“That will set you apart because that news director will know you personally, or whoever it will be.”
Jones believes that this helped her land her first job at the ABC affiliate in Lubbock, Texas.
“Because I showed that I had the drive and the commitment, and showed the initiative to pursue that job, he gave it to me.”
Working in a small market allowed her to gain experience doing many of the jobs required in putting together a newscast.
“I was reporter, anchor, producer, editor, so, I learned a little bit about many jobs,” she says.
Because of this, she now has a better understanding of what her co-workers are going through in order to put out the best news program each day.
Approaching her fourteenth year with WOAI news, the News 4 team has given her the opportunity to experience many career highlights.
“I have interviewed so many people from former presidents to celebrities to accomplished authors, traveled overseas several times and even covered the Olympics.”
However, one of her favorite parts of being a reporter is the “everyday highlights”.
“It’s a great feeling when I tell someone’s story or touch a viewer with something I do on News 4 WOAI Today or the San Antonio Living show,” she says. “I love the inspirational ‘people’ stories where the human spirit triumphs or an ordinary person does something extraordinary.”
San Antonio Living is a lifestyles and entertainment news program that Jones hosted for seven years. Here, she enjoyed sharing her creative side with the audience that one does not normally get to do with a regular newscast.
Nowadays, Jones makes an effort to balance work and her number one priority, her family.
“News is 24/7, and so there is always someone here working. You always have to communicate forward.”
Despite being an amazing multitasker by juggling personal appearances, reporting and family life, Jones enjoys what she does.
“Every day I’m busy. Every day I learn something new, and that’s why I love what I do.”