Vanessa Vancour is the go-to faculty for multimedia news reporting in The Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. She was originally trained at University of Southern California’s top program in broadcast journalism and held internships at Dateline, Fox News and Telemundo. As a result of those work experiences, Vanessa had opportunities in entertainment news, but her heart was set on being a newscaster.
I interned with Telemundo and I never actually interned with VH1 or MTV, rather an entertainment production company in Los Angeles.
She’d never been to Reno but after a phone interview, she was offered a job and moved to Northern Nevada. It was her dream to work in TV news and be on air, so she accepted the position as a bilingual reporter. She wrote and edited every story herself, producing content for the 6:00 PM Spanish newscast and 10:00 PM English newscast. After one year, this became the first and only job that fired her.
She was approached to work at News Channel 4 and shortly after the bilingual news station asked her to sign a contract. Vanessa knew she couldn’t agree to exclusivity, so she didn’t sign the contract and consequently lost her job. It was a blessing in disguise because a month later Vanessa was hired at Channel 4 and within the year, her former station closed.
Initially Vanessa was a weekday reporter and a weekend weather anchor at Channel 4. She regularly stood in front of green screens and practiced what to say and where to point toward certain geographic locations. Vanessa said it’s great practice for public speaking because you take complex information and have to organize it in three key points that you report for three minutes on camera.
Vanessa worked at Channel 4 several years after earning a promotion on the morning show as the weather anchor. She enjoyed her work but because she wasn’t a true meteorologist she struggled with thoughts that she was a phony. She didn’t study science and with news as her passion, she started doing stories on the side. She sought an anchor position at the station but when that didn’t pan out, she broke her contract for a position in social media with the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA).
Six years ago, the position at the RSCVA launched Vanessa’s love for digital media and led to another position as an account manager and strategist at Noble Studios, a full service web design and digital marketing agency. In 2014, The Reynolds School of Journalism hired her as the coordinator of the Nevada Media Alliance. This placed Vanessa as a lecturer of News Studio, a 400-level course where students publish their multi-platform media product in a professional space.
Last year, The Reynolds School was selected as a recipient of a one-year $35,000 experimental grant to produce a bilingual news program called Noticiero Movil. Since receiving the grant, Vanessa’s role has expanded to include both the Nevada Media Alliance and work to develop Noticiero Movil. Vanessa said that she’s called to do this bilingual work and her hope is that she can focus on it full-time once more faculty are hired in her department.
With the expiration of the grant coming soon, Vanessa is assessing the success of her program and intends to reapply for more funding. She said that both the students and community have embraced the bilingual news program. Now The Reynolds School has positioned themselves to be one of first comprehensive programs to offer a bilingual degree in Journalism and are seeking opportunities to partner and collaborate with other schools around the country.
Vanessa is what we call an intrapreneur. She dove head first inside The Reynolds School to develop and launch a unique program. The student feedback is critical in the development of this project and she’s amazed that some students have taken her bilingual news production course more than once. A true testament to Vanessa’s impact is the fact that the Journalism students nominated her for the Semenza Teaching Award, which she was honored to receive at the Savitt Awards Banquet this Spring 2016.
Check out more with Vanessa Vancour answering 5 Questions on Excellence in part two of this blog.