Cart 0
Alese Underwood, San Antonio News Reporter, Chatham University Alumna
 

The CREATORS

Jill of All Trades

 

Alese Underwood doesn’t just report the news—she finds, shoots, and edits it on an iPhone.


 

“Good storytelling is always the backbone, but there a million ways to tell a story.”

 
 

As an on-air reporter for Spectrum News in San Antonio, Texas, Alese Underwood ‘10 does it all: shooting, editing, and reporting her own stories. “I’ve been reporting for almost a decade, but I’ve been doing this model for roughly eight years. Every day I shoot and edit my stories for air on my iPhone,” says Alese of her modern brand of journalism.

Though it requires more work, the advantage is full creative control and a constantly expanding skillset—she has even learned how to integrate 360 degree cameras into her coverage. In the increasingly digital landscape of news consumption, Alese is in charge of promoting her stories digitally, noting that, “Getting your story up online and on social media is crucial—this often happens hours before your newscast.”

Most newsrooms have adapted to this “Jill-of-all-trades” style of reporting over the last few years: “I think it’s key to keeping you on your toes: you learn something new and become your station’s go-to for whatever it is,” says Alese. Having lived and reported in four different U.S. cities, Alese is good at thinking on her feet and meeting the day’s challenges (always different), but her most vital skill may be her ability to gain the trust of the communities that benefit from her investigative reporting.

Alese Underwood, San Antonio News Reporter with video camera, Chatham University Alumna

Giving voice to the San Antonio community is the highlight of her job: “My favorite part is interviewing people. Talking to them and really listening is what gives heart to my stories. Usually I end up seeing something in a new light.” In order to build these powerful connections with her community, Alese immerses herself, getting to know the culture and values by joining a gym and a faith community. Her commitment to volunteering also lends itself to getting to know the city and what issues matter to its residents.

 
 

“You find the stories that matter by reaching out, talking to people, and allowing them to trust you with sensitive topics and impactful issues.”

 
 

The process from community tip-off to live story always looks different depending on the immediacy and sensitivity of the subject matter. Some days, breaking news takes precedence over everything else, and as Alese notes, “Tragedy comes with the territory.” In November 2017, a mass shooter fatally shot 26 people and wounded 20 others at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, about thirty miles east of San Antonio. Alese was there, “boots on the ground, every day for a week.” She continues to cover the aftermath of the shooting and the trauma it inflicted on the community: “It was the deadliest shooting in a place of worship in American history. The stories are heartbreaking but the faith and resiliency of the people there can’t be measured.” Alese says this is the story that had the greatest impact on her as a journalist.

Though covering tragedy is an unfortunate imperative, Alese’s reporting also drives positive change for the communities that tune in. While working in Erie, Pennsylvania, she ran a segment called ‘Hearts Without Homes,’ which featured children living in foster care. One story Alese did on a young man led to him finding a new family and earned Alese an award for best feature piece. Her continual coverage on an animal shelter in Shreveport, Louisiana led to positive reform in the shelter’s regulations.

“As journalists, we are responsible for telling the public what they need to watch out for or be aware of—telling people the information they need to help them be better informed.”

Her love of community is also evident in her commitment to her hometown, Pittsburgh, and to Chatham. Alese’s love of journalism was nurtured at Chatham, where she received ample opportunities to build a skillset to match her passion. After growing up in the South Hills, Alese strongly considered leaving the city for college. But after touring Chatham and learning about our broadcast studio, she was “hooked,” citing a deep love of “traditions, beautiful architecture, and the opportunity to live in historic mansions.”

Her college advisor, Lisa Rose Weaver, was a former CNN Correspondent who had spent decades reporting on world affairs. Alese also worked closely with Tony Norman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on the Chatham newspaper, where she was a reporter. Alese completed internships with all three major news stations in Pittsburgh as well as a summer internship at KDKA Radio. “The skills and inspiration I received propelled my drive to work in television news. I’m forever thankful to Chatham and those outlets for allowing me to have opportunities with the reporters I grew up watching.”

Recently, Alese was named one of Texas’s Top 50 Women to Watch by Eleanora magazine. Luckily for San Antonio, it’s easy to catch Alese on television every day.