News anchor talks about media career

Published 9:36 am Tuesday, April 29, 2014

WNDU news anchor Maureen McFadden was the guest speaker at Dowagiac Rotary’s annual dinner last week. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

WNDU news anchor Maureen McFadden was the guest speaker at Dowagiac Rotary’s annual dinner last week. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

McFadden speaks at annual Rotary dinner

While her manner may be poised and composed while delivering the evening news, when it comes to her three sons, WNDU news anchor Maureen McFadden can get as frazzled as any mother.

When her two eldest children traveled abroad to places like Africa and South America during their studies in college, McFadden said she would fall asleep with her phone next to her in case anything happened to them.

“Because of what my youngest has seen me go through, with my nail-biting and everything else, he said to me, ‘Mom, I’m not going to study abroad,’” McFadden said. “I said to him, ‘I don’t want to take that experience away from you. There are places like England or Ireland, where if Mom needs to get ahold of you, I can speak the language.’”

The longtime TV journalist was the guest speaker

during last week’s “Family and Friends of Rotary” program, the annual dinner hosted by the Dowagiac Rotary Club. McFadden told the members and guests of the changing world of TV news, and of the experiences her more than 30 years of reporting has provided her.

A resident of Granger, McFadden’s parents were originally from Grand Haven, so she feels like she has roots on both sides of the border, she said.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in Michigan. My kids have spent a lot of time in Michigan, so we feel like we’re both Michiganders and residents of Indiana,” McFadden said.

One of the main subjects that the news anchor discussed with attendees was her approach to reporting the news and what traits she felt were most important to do her job successfully.

“When you’re a reporter, you’re going to talk to all kinds of different people,” she said. “The important thing is to be well rounded. I think anybody with a good liberal arts degree would make a good journalist, because they understand things.”

Another skill that McFadden said makes an effective news reporter is the ability to listen and engage in thoughtful interviews with subjects. She also said that, in the TV world, the best writers are the ones who produce clear and concise copy, omitting flowery language for simple words that listeners can easily understand.

She also discussed the changes that she has seen first hand over her years of working at the station, especially those brought about by the era of smartphones and social media.

“Our research shows us that people aren’t sitting home every night watching TV,” McFadden said. “People are often times at a ballgame, and they might get an alert to see what’s going on. Technology has made our business even more competitive than it already is.”

While an increasing number of people are getting their news from the web versus broadcast these days, the Internet has been a benefit for the news station as well, with sites like Facebook and Twitter proving to be a solid resource for story ideas, McFadden said.

However, one thing hasn’t changed in the last few years: The enjoyment she gets working with her brother and co-anchor, Terry.

“The most interesting part of the day is standing next my baby brother when we put on our makeup together,” McFadden said.

While she has spoken to the likes Rosa Parks, Jay Leno and Warren Burger in the past, there was one person at top of McFadden’s wish list of people she would like to interview before she retires, she said.

“[Vladimir] Putin,” McFadden said. “I would love to smack him upside his head.”