COVER STORY: SHARON REED
In a world of Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and literally hundreds of streaming options, sexy 24 hour cable networks and ubiquitous blogs who really cares about the local news anymore? Yet somehow there are still millions of Americans who actually tune in every night to the overly dramatic lead in music of local news to find out what is happening four blocks from their house. And you want to know why? Why do people still chose, trust and consume local news more than any other outlet? Because of women like Sharon Reed.
I’ll say up front that I’m biased. Not because Sharon is beautiful (she is), or because she, was my local news anchor in Cleveland for years (she was) or because she is an incredible cook (which is also true). I’m biased because Sharon Reed has been a friend, a mentor and a perfect example of what local news needs to stay vibrant in a world of crazy competition and flashing lights from everything from your cell phone to your laptop.
I met Sharon at WOIO, the CBS affiliate in Cleveland back in 2008. The local beloved Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, had died unexpectedly from a stroke, and as a political scientist at a local college I was asked to come to the anchor desk and talk about the tragedy. At that point all I knew about Sharon Reed was that she was the only anchor in Cleveland that made the guys in my barbershop change over from Sportscenter. I assumed she was a star, unapproachable and detached. Couldn’t be further from the truth. After my first segment she said “You’re really talented” which I thought was polite anchor-speak for “You didn’t pick your nose on camera thank you”. But she meant it. Sharon pushed for me to come on air more, she convinced the station to get me press credentials, send me to the Republican and Democratic conventions and on top of that she got me paid. It was Sharon that encouraged me to go for CNN, MSNBC and Fox appearances, it was Sharon that showed me what the full range of media can be and it was Sharon that re-inspired me, a media cynic, to believe again in local news.
You see, Sharon Reed is the best of new school and old school local journalism wrapped in shiny package that everybody can appreciate. Sharon has that old school love for the news, whether it’s a local politician getting caught with a male prostitute or city council building a new park or local football team struggling through the bye-week. She’s going to bury herself in the local community, make those stories pop, so that whether you’re in St. Louis, Atlanta or anywhere else you realize that your stories, your news are just as important as anything happening in Hollywood, Washington D.C. or New York City.
But don’t let the smile and the dulcet Midwestern voice fool you. Sharon Reed knows that the game done changed in local news just like the NBA. Gone are the days of Magic and Jordan where you spend your whole career in one city. Sharon’s more like LeBron James, she takes the magic with her no matter where she goes, which is why folks in Philly, Cleveland, St. Louis and now Atlanta know that she’ll always bring her A-game. Every place she leaves is still talking about her, and in this business that’s the greatest compliment of all.
Now let’s be clear, a simple Google Search will show you that Sharon Reed has had her share of drama, at various stations, but that’s part of her charm. You don’t just want to watch your anchors, you want to get to know them, be all up in their business sometimes, but still know that they have your community’s back. How often is a local newsanchor plucking lottery balls on Friday, giving out local Youth Awards on Saturday, all over the local gossip blogs on Sunday and still brining you the news with integrity a smile and a laugh on Monday night? That’s Sharon Reed.
While St. Louis bids farewell to a talent they only knew for so long Atlanta is going to be lucky to have Sharon Reed coming to them live every night. There are not enough anchors anymore who just want to do good work and give their all to the local community, not with an eye for cable or Hollywood but with their gaze firmly planted on mainstreet. Sharon Reed is too young to be the last of a dying breed, but we best appreciate her for as long as we can.