Born and raised in Calgary, award-winning journalist Linda Olsen anchors the 6 p.m. newscast at Global News Calgary. In her 20 years at Global, Olsen has seen some of the biggest events to hit the city including the 2013 Southern Alberta Floods.
You can follow her @Linda_Olsen.
What is it like to be an Anchor for Global News in Calgary?
Being an anchor on Global News Hour at 6 is an exciting, challenging and interesting job. I’m a born and raised Calgarian and I appreciate our role in bringing stories to people every day. As someone people know and recognize, I always like when viewers take the time to chat with me outside of the newsroom, in the community, or at some of the events we cover. It’s a wonderful way to connect with them and find out what their interests are.
How do you decide what to cover?
There are several factors involved when we decide which stories to cover. We have an exceptional team of producers, reporters, photojournalists and graphic artists who are involved in the many meetings we have throughout the day. Collectively, we determine what news to cover and how to cover it.
It is a very collaborative process and there are often different ideas and points of view. We also think about how important and interesting a story is to our viewers. It may not necessarily have the most compelling visuals but the issue is important so we will give that story more consideration. Still, since we are a visual medium, a story with compelling video also becomes a priority. Stories change throughout the day and sometimes a great idea in the morning doesn’t come together for the evening news, but we continue the conversation about what are the best stories that we can tell on the News Hour at 6.
How does social media factor into your work?
Social media has become very important in our daily work. I’m on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook on a regular basis, connecting with viewers to get story ideas and replying to their feedback on what we are covering. We’re also using it more as a way to let viewers know what stories are coming up on our news that night or when we are out at a community event. It’s a great way to get real-time feedback and gives people on social media a way to reach out to us.
What does a typical day look like for you?
When I get to the station, I go through the hundreds of emails we receive every day. We sort through news releases, story ideas and feedback from viewers. It is time-consuming, but we don’t want to miss something important. We then have editorial meetings, usually three throughout the day, where we discuss the story ideas we are pursuing and then follow up to see how the reporters in the field are progressing. At those meetings, we also discuss how we will cover the story and where it will go in our newscast that night. There are often other meetings with managers and colleagues about our news coverage in general on all our platforms (TV, radio and online).
I am also very involved in our community initiatives and have various meetings with groups that we are aligned with about sharing their stories with our audience. I host and emcee events throughout the city and often have meetings and correspondence about those events and scripts. Then, I help to write Global News at 5 and anchor that newscast and then anchor Global News Hour at 6. It is a full day, but always different and interesting.
What’s your number one tip for PR people?
As I mentioned, we get hundreds of emails every day. My number one tip is to make that lead sentence stand out! If you don’t catch my attention in the first few lines, I may miss the important content. We do have an assignment editor who takes more time to read through everything, but if you’re reaching out to a group of journalists or a particular reporter, you have to grab our attention with a bold statement, then go into another line of detail about the event or issue. Leave all the date and time information for the end.
Also, follow up! It’s a busy newsroom and sometimes the phone may ring a lot, but try again. Remind us of your story or event so it comes back to our attention.
What was your favourite story to work on?
I was fortunate to work on Global’s Woman of Vision series for 15 years. Every month, we profiled inspirational women in the Calgary community. I wrote a column for the Calgary Herald and produced a story for Global News Hour at 6 sharing their inspiration and what made them a visionary. I met so many amazing women, whose personal and professional stories have stayed with me. It would be impossible to choose just one! I will also remember covering the 2013 floods of Southern Alberta. It was a difficult story to cover, but again as a born and raised Calgarian, it was important to me to be in the middle of the story and making sure viewers got the information they needed during that time.
What’s the story you’d most like to cover?
My niece is an Olympic gymnast, who proudly represented Canada at the Games in Rio. I got to interview her afterwards when she got back to her home in Vancouver, but a dream assignment would be to travel to Tokyo, Japan and cover her competing in the 2020 Games!
Or, could we find me a story to cover on a beach in Hawaii?
What is the first website you load in the morning?
Global News and Newstalk 770. Then, I head to Twitter and read interesting news links
Coffee, beer, or something else?
You may find this hard to believe and most people say ‘What?!’ when I tell them, but I have never had a cup of coffee in my life! When I was in my twenties, I told my former colleague, the wonderful Darrel Janz, that I didn’t drink coffee or smoke and he said, with a twinkle in his eye, ‘What are you doing in this business then? How will you survive?’ I enjoy my chai tea lattes (a lot) and a glass of white wine now and then.