By: Kimi Andrew, News Intern
HONOLULU, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - For Hawaii News Now reporter Mileka Lincoln, each work day begins at 1:00 a.m.
After catching up on the newscasts from the previous night, Lincoln gets ready and heads over to the bustling news station. While most people are still sound asleep, she is gathering information and putting together scripts.
The reason for the hustle? By the time most people crawl out of bed and flip on the T.V., she is already out on location, telling viewers about that morning's breaking news story. When the clock strikes 8:00 a.m. and we are scrambling to get out the door to start our own day, Lincoln is already gathering leads for tomorrow's story.
Although this article was originally intended to be a "day-in-the-life" of a reporter, it quickly became obvious while following Ms. Lincoln that no two of her days are ever alike. Daily routines are similar, but, as a live reporter Lincoln has seen the sun rise from pretty much everywhere on Oahu.
The first day she and I spoke, she was doing a live-shot in Aiea, next to a completed section of Honolulu's ongoing rail project. At 5:00 a.m., Lincoln was standing in front of the camera, ready to go on air. Once an anchor at the news station tossed to her, she discussed the rail project and the vote on it that was to take place later that day.
Television news has changed drastically over the years and, despite what some movies may portray, being an anchor or reporter is about much more than being on TV and reading a script that is put in front of you.
Between live updates and emailing leads, Lincoln talked about the ups and downs of being a morning news reporter, whose work shift is technically from 3:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
"If you got into this business because you wanted to be a journalist and wanted to serve your community and are just naturally curious, then being on TV is just a byproduct of the work that you do all day," Lincoln explained.
Contrary to what many people believe, reporters do their own investigating and digging for stories.
"I make a request at 8:30 in the morning. People typically get that request at 10:00 [a.m.], and then I'm spending the day consistently following up with them, even if it's for the next day," said Lincoln. "It will never be okay for me to walk in at 3:00 a.m. and only now do my research."
Lincoln has had her sights set on becoming a TV reporter for as long as she can remember, but despite attending one of the country's best schools for journalism – the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism – she is still learning things on the job that no school teaches.
"They don't teach you the practicalities of being a reporter. They don't teach you how to train your face not to be so expressive when something awful happens out in the field," she said.
There was one time in particular that Lincoln had to learn on the spot how to keep her emotions out of the broadcast. Growing up in Waimea, on the island of Hawaii, the volcanic mountain of Mauna Kea has always been a huge part of her life.
"A perfect example of the challenge of [staying impartial] has been covering Mauna Kea and TMT," said Lincoln, referring to the Thirty-Meter Telescope project being proposed for construction on the mountain. "One of the pressures that I have felt in addition to making sure that I am fair and balanced and accurate has been to also make sure that I provide a voice to those who maybe would not have traditionally had a voice."
While covering the protests against TMT on Mauna Kea, Lincoln has had to navigate how to remain unbiased even when it comes to situations that are close to her heart. One thing she has learned from her time as a reporter, however, is that there are not two sides to every story – there are a million sides.
"Doing justice at the end of the day is when all sides are mad at you, because that means that none of them think that you only served one side."
Despite the long, unusual hours, having to keep emotions and opinions out of every newscast, and the constant digging for fresh stories, Lincoln could not emphasize enough how much she loves her job.
"If the stars align in such a way that this is still something you want to do, then know that you can legitimately affect change in your community by being a voice for people who otherwise would have no platform. For me, that's what I love."